Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spinach Souffle

Now this is why I do the whole Daring Cooks thing...because when I opened the file for this November's challenge, my first thought was Oh, s***. Perhaps that's not everyone's idea of a fun time, but I like a challenge.

Souffles, how you torture me. I figure that a souffle is something that every semi-serious cook should have under their belt, but my one previous attempt scared me off. It was Julia Child's chocolate souffle, and while the taste was delicious, the texture was like a sponge that had been left in the sink for too long. Nick still makes fun of me for it, in fact, and this was about two years ago.

But because I think that it's a semi-necessary part of one's repertoire, I've always had it in the back of my mind that it must be attempted again, whether I repeat the same recipe or try another.

Fear of repeated failure had me convinced that a savory souffle might be a good place to start, partially because savory souffles are not expected to rise dramatically (my first one, of course, did not rise very much). I had spied this recipe a long time ago on Epicurious, and when I was craving some creamed spinach to go with a ribeye, this sounded like a perfect substitution.

So the verdict? Rather successful. It may not have been the lightest, airiest souffle to have ever graced a plate, but it was satisfactory. Enough so that I am no longer quite as afraid of souffles. Perhaps I'll even try a sweet version.

Spinach Soufflé
(Adapted from Epicurious)
  • 5 tablespoon butter, plus extra for prepping the dish
  • About 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan
  • 1 cup shopped shallots (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
  • 2 cups (packed) grated smoked Gouda cheese (about 7 ounces)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a standard soufflé dish, and sprinkle finely grated Parmesan all over the sides of the dish. 

In a large saucepan, cook shallots in the butter over medium heat, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add flour; stir 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring almost constantly, until mixture is thick and smooth. This may take almost 15 minutes, as it must be done slowly so that the sauce does not burn or curdle. Remove sauce from heat. 

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the egg yolks, spinach, 1 1/3 cups cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. When the sauce is cool enough that it's no longer steaming, stir about 3/4 cup into the spinach mixture. Gradually stir in the rest, being careful not to curdle the egg yolks.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into spinach mixture in 2 additions. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup cheese over. Bake until puffed and set, about 45 minutes

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