I really shouldn’t call anything Jacque Pepin recommends a cheat. I mean, if he does something in the kitchen, it may as well be a law because you know there’s a sound rationale behind it and he’s going to do it right. Lately I’ve been reading his autobiography, The Apprentice, and I stumbled upon the souffle recipe that his mother used to make. I’ve been getting into making souffles lately partially because I enjoy the challenge and partially because a well made souffle is fucking delicious. What really attracted me to the recipe was that Pepin’s mother didn’t actually make her souffle the traditional way. Instead of separating the yolks and whites and recombining after changing the composition of both, she just mixed everything together with a white sauce and popped it in the oven. WTF?
And there I was, scratching my head wondering if this was a real thing or not. Had my cookbooks been lying to me? Is it really possible to make a tasty, delicate souffle without the multiple, messy steps I had become accustomed? Well, turns out Pepin wins yet again (no surprise). Not only was the souffle a great meal, but it rose beautifully. Simple, relatively fast, and much less sensitive to the normal restraints of throwing a souffle together. Future Top Chef contestants, you are welcome.
Ingredients for one large souffle (two person snack):
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup whole milk
pinch cayenne powder
big handful chopped chives
Kings of Leon – Youth and Young Manhood
Start by making your bechamel sauce and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In this case it’s pretty straight forward, just set your pan to medium-low heat. Using a wooden spoon, mix melted butter with one Tbsp of flour at a time until well blended and let cook until the mix loses the raw flour taste. This is your roux, and you want to keep it white so just cook it long enough and then add your milk.
Increase the heat to medium and stir frequently until milk begins to bubble and thicken. The thickness is going to happen in a blink of the eye. One second it’s going to be thin and milky, and then you’re notice it thicken considerably the next. Just be sure to keep stirring until smooth and the sauce coats the spoon easily.
Set aside and let cool, add your seasonings and stir occasionally. Now in a bowl whisk the 3 whole eggs, shredded cheese and chives. Once the bechamel has cooled, add the egg mix and stir to completely incorporate. You can set this aside for later or bake immediately.
Pour in a buttered ramekin bowl with a little cheese sprinkled on top, and place in the lowest 1/3 of the oven for 30 – 40 minutes. IMPORTANT: Do Not open the oven for the first 30 minutes at least! This is the time with the whites in the egg mix will start to puff up as air expands in the bubbles. Once the process is interrupted there’s no way to get it to start back up again. So do be somewhat careful about banging around and opening the oven during this time.
30-40 minutes pass, the top is nicely browned, remove from oven and serve immediately. It will deflate pretty quickly but none of that delicious flavor will be lost. Bon appetite!