Friday, June 11, 2010

Savory Leek and Gruyere Souffle

Sigh. When I think of this dinner, I sigh a little. The souffle was fabulous. It rose perfectly, it didn't fall and it tasted divine. However, while the recipe said it would take 25 minutes to cook, my souffle took closer to an hour (thanks to a deep souffle dish). It worked out just fine--I knew the kids wouldn't eat it anyway so they enjoyed a dinner of cooked beets, sweet potato biscuits, and cucumber and tomato slices. I held out for the souffle and it was worth the wait!

May I just mention again my achilles' heel of cooking---biscuits. I managed to make a perfect souffle without deflating egg whites or having the souffle fall. The simple biscuits however just barely rose. The taste was wonderful, they were flaky enough, and the texture was great. They just didn't rise. I just don't understand it. Someday maybe I will figure out the secret. Until then, I guess I'll just be content with flat biscuits and perfect souffles. This recipe serves 4 - 6 as a main and 6 - 8 as a side.

Savory Leek and Gruyere Souffle
tweaked slightly from Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmer's Market

2 T olive oil
4 leeks (about 1 1/2 lbs), dark green parts trimmed, washed well, and chopped
1 t fresh thyme, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 T cold butter
5 T flour
2 1/2 c half-and-half, warmed
6 large eggs, separated
2 c (approx 8 oz) Gruyere cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the leeks and thyme until leeks are tender, about 12 minutes. Season with salt. Set aside to cool. While leeks cool, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute, until combined. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half. Cook, whisking, until sauce is smooth and thick. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in 1 1/2 c Gruyere and cooled leeks. Season with salt and pepper (even though the Gruyere tastes salty, it needs more salt).

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold in 1/4 of whites into leek mixture with a rubber spatula. Quickly, but gently, fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Prepare a large (14-inch) gratin dish or large souffle dish. Butter gratin dish or souffle dish well and sprinkle with 1/2 c of the cheese. Pour leek and egg mixture into prepared dish. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven until top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center is not wet (a little moist is ok). Depending on depth of dish, it will take 25 - 60 minutes. Serve immediately.

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