A few weeks back I read an article on The Kitchn about making cheese soufflés. I had never made any sort of soufflé before and was curious if not a little intimidated. Soufflés had always been a bit of an enigma for me but the pay-off seemed worth it. If only I could master that little eggy, cheesy, pillowy cloud....
As it turns out, soufflés are nowhere near as difficult as I had imagined. These comté and asparagus soufflés turned out beautifully pouffed and tender on the first try. I will concede that it entailed more steps than I am accustomed to but if you are looking to impress it will be well worth your effort.
Before we get into the recipe, do note that you should plan to serve and eat the soufflé right out of the oven as that is when you'll get the most dramatic pouf.
Comté and Asparagus Soufflé Recipe
8 stalks of asparagus, cleaned and chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup of Comté, grated
1/4 cup of Parmesan, grated
4 tablespoons of butter
1 and 1/2 cup of milk
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
A few sprinkles of salt and nutmeg
Start by getting your soufflé dish or ramekins ready. I used 8oz ramekins, which makes for 8 individual servings. If you don't have a soufflé dish or ramekins, a round or square dish will work fine, as long as it is deep. Use 1/2 tablespoon of butter to grease your dish(es) and then sprinkle the inside with parmesan cheese. A powdered parmesan probably would have gone on more evenly but...yummm cheeezzee.
Set your oven to 400°F. Sauté asparagus at medium heat in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Put the asparagus aside.
The next step is eggs, so let's get crackin'. Separate all 4 eggs and put the whites into your mixer's bowl (or a bowl large enough that you can beat them in) and yolks in a small bowl. This recipe only requires three yolks so take one out and use it for breakfast tomorrow.
Now it's time to make a béchamel sauce. In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, melt your butter. When it's fully melted, begin to add the flour, bit by bit, whisking as you go. It will thicken up and almost look like scrambled eggs by the time you are done.
Let it cook for a minute or two and continue to smooth it out. Lower the heat and begin adding milk while whisking until smooth. Let it thicken for a bit longer (just a minute or so) and then pour into a large bowl.
Add the 3 egg yolks to the Béchamel and stir.
Add Comté, salt, and nutmeg, tasting as you go to achieve the right flavor balance.
Beat egg whites on medium speed for about 5 minutes until stiff but not dry.
Fold in a scoop of egg white to the béchamel by skimming the bottom of the bowl and flipping the mixture over. Continue to fold in the rest of the egg whites, one scoop at a time.
It will be a bit lumpy still but not to worry.
Fill your dish(es) with the mixture up to half way and sprinkle on asparagus in a single layer.
Fill the dish up to the top with the rest of the mixture.
Place dish on the bottom rack of your 400°F oven and bake for 23 minutes, give or take. If the soufflé starts to brown to quickly place a pan on the top rack to block some of the heat.
Serve immediately after removing from the oven as the soufflé will begin to deflate quickly.