Had quite a few requests for the recipe behind this Instagram pic, so here it is. It's a simple cheese rice souffle, (and they really are simple.) Here's my spin on this classic.
The soufflé is generally attributed to Marie-Antoine Carême, a founding father of French grande cuisine. Carême's first iterations were made in the early 19th century, in stiff, straight sided pastry casings that are the inspiration for the modern soufflé dish.
Technically, a soufflé is a cake consisting of a cream sauce or pastry cream combined with beaten egg whites. Soufflé is actually a tense of the French verb 'souffler', to blow or puff,; an apt description of the cooking process involved. The base cream may be sweet or savory. The beaten egg whites, incorporating a lot of tiny air bubbles, provides the classic rise that defines this delicious dish.
Soufflés can be made in containers of all shapes and sizes, but the traditional vessel is a straight sided, white glazed porcelain soufflé pan, round with a glazed or unglazed bottom and fluted sides. The porcelain transmits heat quickly and well, the unglazed bottom anchors the dish, and the straight, glazed sides allow an unfettered rise in the oven.
The keys to a grey soufflé are;
a pre-heated oven,
Eggs at room temperature,
Very gentle folding of the beaten egg whites.
You want as much energy as possible to go toward the rise of the soufflé, as opposed to heating ingredients, so the preheated oven is a big help, as are eggs at room temp. Very gentle folding of the egg whites ensures that all that air trapped in the egg white matrix is available to the soufflé – again, that's the fuel behind the rise, and rough handling kills it quickly.
I've made this with all kinds of rice; I get the best results with long grain or wild. It's easily the most elegant use of leftover rice I can think of.
Cheese Rice Soufflé
2 Cups cooked Rice
1 1/2 Cups Extra Sharp Cheddar
3 large Eggs
1 1/2 Cups whole Milk
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon minced Shallot
1 teaspoon Lemon Thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground Grains of Paradise
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
Dash of Tabasco Sauce
Have eggs at room temperature before starting.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Crack and carefully separate eggs whites and yolks into two mixing bowls.
In a heavy sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk to combine.
Allow roux to cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.
Slowly add milk in small amounts, whisking each into the roux.
Incorporate all the milk without breaking the roux; in other words, it should start out as thick as mashed potatoes and end up as a fairly thick cream sauce, never being allowed to separate into liquids and solids. Slow and steady incorporation is the key.
Add rice, shallot, lemon thyme, salt, grains of paradise, (pepper is Ok), and Tabasco. Whisk to combine.
Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Whisk egg yolks with a teaspoon of water, until they've thickened slightly and are nice and uniform.
Add yolks to cream and rice mixture and blend thoroughly.
By hand or with a whisk attachment for an immersion blender, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; you want to be able to flip a bit of the whites it's your whisk and see them stand pretty much straight up and stay there.
Check the temperature of your cream and rice mix. You want it warm, but not hot enough to start cooking the eggs prior to baking.
Working in thirds, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cream and rice blend. Use the side of a spatula and take your time. The batter should look and feel quite light when fully blended.
Chose a pan sized such that the batter will fill it about 2/3 way up the sides.
Carefully pour the batter into an ungreased soufflé pan.
Bake uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes. Don't open the oven – Let it work!
Soufflé top should be nicely risen and golden brown.
Serve immediately with a nice, crisp salad. Sparkling dry cider is a great accompaniment.