Chard and Cheese Soufflé

Chard and Cheese Soufflé
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chard and Cheese soufflé
Who wouldn’t want to show off this dish?

It’s been a while since we had a soufflé; we guess that we just don’t think of making a soufflé when we decide what to have as a main for lunch or dinner. It’s not because they’re difficult, although they do have the reputation of being so; we just forget how good they are. So, we decided on a soufflé for lunch, but what kind?

We decide to try making one with Swiss chard and Cheddar cheese, figuring that would be similar to a spinach soufflé, but we had no idea how or when to add the chard. Even so, we forged ahead and tried the first thing we could think of. And, you know what? Our instincts were pretty much right.

Chard and Cheese Soufflé

Yield: 3-4 servings

Chard and Cheese Soufflé

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 small bunch Swiss chard, cut into fine ribbons
  • 3 Tbs all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz) grated Cheddar cheese
  • Pinch of cream of tartar

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Butter a 5x9-inch loaf pan or a 7-inch soufflé dish. Coat with flour.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bay leaf, nutmeg, and chard. Cook until moisture is released and chard is tender, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over chard and stir, scraping up flour as needed. Continue cooking, stirring and scraping all the time, for about 5 minutes.

While stirring, slowly add milk, and continue cooking until thickened and bubbling. Add salt and cook for 1 additional minute, then remove from heat and remove bay leaf. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

In a large bowl, mix together egg yolks and cheese. While stirring rapidly, slowly pour in hot sauce. Continue stirring until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar and increase the mixer speed to high. Beat until the egg whites hold stiff but shiny peaks.

In three additions, fold egg whites into cheese and egg sauce. Scrape into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown, puffed, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve at once.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2015/04/chard-and-cheese-souffle/

Ingredient discussion:

A no-brainer: this is an egg dish, so go all out on the eggs. We always use eggs from free-range hens, and we think it makes a noticeable difference. While we used a sharp Cheddar cheese, you can easily substitute any other strong cheese that you like. We suggest using a strong-flavored cheese because, when hot, cheese tends to lose flavor.

Procedure in detail:

buttered and floured pan
Buttering and flouring will make for easy cleanup later.
chopped chard
Try to make very thin ribbons of chard so they’ll mix in nicely with the other ingredients.
separated eggs
We separated the eggs right into the bowls where we’d need them and let them warm to room temperature while we started making the béchamel sauce.

Prep. Preheat the oven to 400°F and move a rack to the lower third of the oven, keeping all the space above clear. You don’t know how much the soufflé will rise and it would be messy if it rose right into a rack positioned above the soufflé. Butter and flour a soufflé dish if you have one, or, do as we did, and just use a loaf pan. Set aside. Finish up any remaining preparations such as chopping the chard or grating cheese. And don’t forget to separate the eggs so they can warm to room temperature. Room temperature egg whites whip better.

cooking chard
In a few minutes, the chard will release liquid and cook down.

Cook chard. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bay leaf, nutmeg, and chard. Stir and cook until the chard has released its moisture and most of the liquid has cooked away, about 5 minutes.  You might think it’ll be difficult to find the bay leaf in there later, but, if you chopped the chard into fine ribbons, the bay leaf will stand out.

adding flour
Sprinkle the flour over the chard as best you can, then stir it in and cook, scraping and stirring.

Add flour. Sprinkle the flour over the chard and stir it in. Some of the flour will stick to the bottom of the pan, but just scrape it up. You’ll probably have to scrape flour off the spoon, too. Just keep cooking, stirring, and scraping for about 5 minutes.

Once the sauce thickens and boils for a minute, remove from the heat.
Once the sauce thickens and boils for a minute, remove from the heat.

Add milk. While stirring, slowly add the milk to the chard mixture. Keep stirring while the mixture thickens and comes to a boil, add salt, and let it bubble away, still stirring, for about a minute. Remove from heat. Find that bay leaf and remove it, then taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

cheese and egg yolks
The cheese and egg yolks won’t mix into anything other than something like this. It’ll smooth as you add the hot béchamel.

Mix yolks and cheese. While the béchamel sauce cools a bit, quickly stir together the egg yolks and cheese. With all that cheese, it won’t really mix very well; just do your best.

cheese sauce
We’re too busy stirring to get a photo of us adding the béchamel, but, once you do, you;ll have a nice, smooth cheese sauce. This would be great on mac ‘n’ cheese, too.

Temper. Adding a hot sauce to egg yolks is known as tempering. The goal is to combine the two without cooking the yolks. The béchamel sauce should still be quite warm. If you just add it directly to the egg yolk and cheese mixture, the yolks will cook and you won’t have a nice, smooth soufflé. So, this is what you need to do: start stirring the cheese mixture as fast and as well as you can, while simultaneously slowly pouring in the béchamel sauce. It’ll be tricky because the sauce has those chard strands and it’s pretty thick. As sauce is added, you can pour a bit faster, and right near the end you should have no problem stopping stirring while you scrape out the pan.

whipped egg whites
Watch the egg whites as you whip them; they should always look glossy and smooth, never crumbly and dry, which indicates they were overwhipped.

Whip egg whites. Start whipping the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When you start, you should be able to adjust the speed to medium easily without whites flying out of the bowl. In about 30 seconds, the whites will begin to get foamy, which is the cue to add the pinch of cream of tartar. This pinch will help stabilize the whites and make them easier to whip. Increase the speed to high and whip until the whites can hold stiff peaks but are still glossy, about 2 minutes.

folding in egg whites
Multiple additions of the egg whites make it easy to fold them in. The batter just keeps getting lighter and fluffier.

Fold. Switch from a spoon to a spatula, and, in three equal additions, fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture. The first addition will mostly collapse, the second addition will hold up better, and the third should make your batter nice and light.

soufflé ready for the oven
Even though this will rise right out of the pan, it shouldn’t spill over the side. If you’re worried, put a baking pan on the rack below while baking.

Bake. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan (it should come close to the top) and bake. If you’re worried that it may overflow while baking (we were), place a baking sheet on the rack below the soufflé. Let bake for about 30 minutes — don’t open the oven until the soufflé is nearly done. The top will be golden and the soufflé should have just about doubled in size, but most importantly, a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.

Serve. This is a dish that should be brought out and placed on the table. There’s no point in making such an amazing creating and not showing it off, so bring it out with a large serving spoon and let everyone dig in.

We think we liked this chard and cheese soufflé even better than the goat cheese soufflé. It seemed to have more flavor, and, perhaps surprisingly, more spring in the oven. We don’t think that the extra spring is due to the different cheese or including chard, but we do think that our technique may have improved. One of the best parts of this soufflé was the brown crust on the top and the sides caused by the addition of Cheddar cheese. They were just slightly crispy, and oh, so tasty. Five stars.

Worth the trouble?

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