Four Cheese Soufflé
At most cooking schools, the soufflé is not usually taught until at least the second week or so. In other words, this technique is rudimentary, but not quite as rudimentary as trussing a chicken or holding a knife and chopping onions. This one is based on the classic recipe from Le Cordon Bleu, which you may know better as the one that Julia Child published in her 1961 seminal work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. With absolutely no disrespect meant for Miss Julia—I consider her the ultimate luminary, a goddess, a magician, a taskmaster, and a supreme being in every way—I find her basic cheese soufflé is merely passable, not really ver good, and certainly not great. Forgive me. I have added some different cheeses here and have punched up the flavors with cayenne pepper and mustard. I would hope that Julia would be very pleased with the result. It’s at once luscious and light, awe-inspiring and easy, formal yet accessible. The four cheeses are in harmony, virtually indistinguishable from one another so much so that I feel their combination could be marketed as a completely new cheese all its own. There are lots of steps, but all of them are easy and clearly defined.
YIELD: 4 to 6 servings
3 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for the soufflé dish
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
¾ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 egg yolks
½ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, firmly packed
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine
8 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 6-cup soufflé dish or two 4-cup soufflé dishes. The smaller the dish, the higher the soufflé will rise. Add 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and shake the buttered dishes to coat them with the Parmesan.
In a heavy skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Stir it with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it is fully cooked through but not brown. This will take 3 to 4 minutes.
In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the milk until it is scalding but not boiling. Add ¾ teaspoon of the salt, the white pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and garlic, and stir thoroughly to combine these ingredients with the milk.
Add the roux to the milk and whisk it vigorously to fully combine so there are no lumpy bits of roux in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove it from the heat. It will have thickened considerably.
Let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes and pour it into a medium mixing bowl.
Stir in the egg yolks, one by one, and then the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, Cheddar, Gruyère, and blue cheeses, and the mustard, lemon juice, and white wine.
In the bowl of a large electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they stand in soft peaks. Add 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to the mixing bowl and stir it well to lighten the mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
Pour the soufflé mixture gently into the prepared soufflé dish so as not to deflate the egg whites, and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes until it has risen. Serve it immediately.
Note: I love to undercook soufflés because the underdone part in the middle makes its own sauce for the soufflé and you don’t need a separate sauce. That is my preference, but do it however you feel the most comfortable.
Happy cooking! Love, Alex.