And I thought this was supposed to be difficult. It was my first time making this and it was quite easy. I’ve actually made it a couple of times now. Of course, a traditionally French dish has to be made using a recipe from a French chef. So I picked the most eccentric looking one. I present to you Jean-Pierre Coffe.
He’s known for a few things. Mostly for being a pretty staunch defender of traditional cooking with regional, seasonal product. He hosted a radio show for 10 years called “Ça se bouffe pas, ça se mange” which roughly translates to “It’s not gobbled, it’s eaten.” He’s kind of a character; He generally has a bit of bawdiness in his manner and his food descriptions. He even threw processed meat at a TV presenter once. Kind of a crazy guy. But he does make good food.
But back to the soufflé: I could do much worse than picking a French chef as a resource for a cheese soufflé recipe. I looked around and compared a few recipes. Authentic French recipes can be difficult as they tend to be very vague about proportions and measurements. Often times it feels as the author is even afraid to get terribly precise with some measurements, “a spoonful of this, a pinch of that,” whereas other times in the same recipe they specify exactly 125 grams of butter. I’ve converted the vague sections of his recipe to numbers for those interested.
I was feeling a bit bold when I attempted this too. I decided to invite some friends over to witness my first attempt at a soufflé. I’m reckless like that. Caution to the wind and all.
So when they finally came over, I had the mis en place set up. All my eggs in one basket, butter measured, cheese grated, the ramekin buttered and kept in the fridge.
The cooking came together very quickly. Make a quick white roux, add hot milk, then yolks and cheese. Beat the whites and fold those in. Pour into the ramekin and bake. Fairly quick and straightforward when all was said and done. Just the agonizing wait to see if the soufflé would souffle. The wait was made easier with a few drinks and 30 minutes of trying to distract myself watching RiffTrax with my friends later came the moment of truth. What do you think?
Not bad, eh? I was very happy. Like a big fluffy cheese quiche. I served it with a salad and basic vinegrette. My friends were pretty impressed. Not a bad dinner for a Tuesday night.
A quick note though, because this is a very eggy dish, try to get some good eggs. I again got some super fresh, organic, free-range eggs from my local guy. This batch came from the same place as the duck eggs from a couple weeks ago, Box Turtle Meadow Farm. I plan to try this recipe again with duck eggs to see if it makes a difference. I’ll let you know how it goes!
This can probably feed 6 people, but the four of us didn’t have much trouble polishing it off. In parenthesis are the actual measurements of the original recipe given in metric and the conversion.
8 eggs (room temp)
2 cups milk (1/2 liter = 2c .9oz)
125 grams butter ( = 4.4 ounces = 8.2 Tbsp) Measure by weight if you can.
2 to 3 Tbsp butter for the ramekin
125 grams flour ( = 4.4 ounces = 1 cup) Measure by weight if you can.
125 grams cheese, gruyère ( = 4.4 ounces = 1 cup) Measure by weight if you can.
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (white pepper, if you have it)
The directions are a bit long, but there isn’t anything that I found to be complicated. Give it a shot! It will surprise you
1. Preheat the oven to 430F (220C, it’s French, remember).
2. Melt 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter, brush bottom and sides of a large ramekin. Refrigerate the ramekin for about 10 minutes and brush with butter again. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
3. Heat the milk, salt, and pepper in a pot over medium-high heat until it comes to a simmer.
4. While the milk is heating, add the butter to a large pot over medium heat. Once melted, dump in all the flour and whisk until it is well integrated. Allow to cook, whisking continuously for 30-60 seconds. Do not let this brown. A white roux has much less flavor but much more thickening power. Today, we want the thickening power.
5. Add the milk all at once and whisk continuously. The combined mixture will thicken almost immediately. It should feel like you are stirring a pile of glue (but taste better). Remove from heat.
6. To this, add the the egg yolks (already beaten together) and the the cheese. Mix thoroughly then cover to keep warm.
7. Beat the egg white until they come together and start to get a little bit foamy. Add the 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, then continue to beat until glossy and firm (mid to stiff peaks).
8. Add about 1/4 of the whites to the milk and cheese mixture. Mix to combine. Add the rest, about a quarter at a time, folding the two together gently. They should be combined, but don’t worry about small pockets of egg white. Don’t stir everything like a batter, you want to gently incorporate everything.
9. Bake for 30 minutes. Do NOT open the oven door during the first 20 minutes–it will let the heat out and may prematurely deflate the souffle. Check the souffle (through the oven door window if you have one), if the top is browning too quickly, toss a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top.