Inspired by a childhood visit to a London restaurant. Alex’s twice-baked soufflé is a real showstopper—and it’s easy to make.
The name of this dish literally translates from French as "Swiss soufflé." For those of you who tremble with terror at the word soufflé, and doubly so if it has Suissesse after it, hold on a minute, take a deep breath, and relax. Let me explain. This dish will change your life — or at least the way you entertain. It's simply a twice-baked cheese soufflé with tomato sauce — a soufflé that can be mostly prepared ahead of time. It's even inverted for the second round in the oven, so there's no worry about the soufflé falling. Honestly, you just can't ruin it.
Step back in time with me to London in 1980, when I went with my parents to the very famous, super-chic, Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche. A renowned food destination with jet-set clientele, it was a truly incredible place, and we felt special being there. The restaurant was started in the 1960s by the Roux brothers, Michel and Albert, who were from France and both distinguished chefs in their own right. They had the vision to hire amazing young talents such as Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay, who then went on to substantial fame and restaurant empires of their own, as I'm sure you already know. Soufflé "Suissesse" is still one of the signature dishes at Le Gavroche. I fell in love with it all those years ago, and I am really pleased to share my take on it here with you.
The soufflé makes for a superb lunch with a simple green salad, or a stunning first dinner course when you've got guests you really want to impress.
Everything except the final baking can be done ahead of time, so make the soufflé as many as three days in advance, invert it onto a baking dish, and store it in your fridge. You can even prep one step further: Once the soufflé has cooled, cover it with the tomato sauce — again, up to three days in advance. When you're ready to serve it, simply bake it one more time, and take it straight to the table. It's an exciting moment that you'll relish for years to come, and when you do, think of me as an 11-year-old in a blue blazer and rep tie sitting with the grown-ups, all of us devouring Soufflé "Suissesse" in a faraway land that maybe doesn't seem as faraway today. In fact, it can be right there in your own kitchen in the short time it'll take you to whip up this decadent delicacy.
Happy cooking! Love, Alex.
For the Soufflé
3 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for the baking dish
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, divided
3 tablespoons flour
¾ cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 egg yolks and 6 egg whites
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, firmly packed
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese, firmly packed
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. 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 Parmesan cheese and shake the buttered dishes to coat them.
2. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and flour together 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.
3. Heat the milk and cream in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until it is scalding but not boiling. Add 1 teaspoon salt, the white pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and garlic; stir to thoroughly combine these ingredients with the milk.
4. Add the roux to the milk and whisk vigorously to fully combine so there are no lumpy bits in the milk. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. It will have thickened considerably.
5. Let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then pour it into a medium-size mixing bowl. Stir in the egg yolks, one by one, and then the cheeses, mustard, and lemon juice.
6. In the bowl of a large electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft-peaks stage. Add one-third of the whipped whites to the milk mixture and stir well to lighten the mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
8. Gently pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared soufflé dish, so as not to deflate the egg whites, and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool for 20 minutes, then loosen the edges by running the dull side of a knife around the perimeter of the dish.
9. Invert the soufflé onto an ovenproof baking dish or serving platter for re-baking, and let cool completely. (This may be done up to three days ahead of time.)
10. When it's time to serve the soufflé, preheat the oven to 450°F. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the inverted soufflé, using all of it. There will be a puddle of sauce.
11. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the soufflé has puffed again and is brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.
For the Tomato Sauce
Yield: exactly enough to cover the soufflé for a gratin
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1½ cups heavy cream
1 cup white wine
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, firmly packed
In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all ingredients but the cheese, bring them to a boil, and then boil for 20 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, and pour the sauce over the inverted soufflé.