For even the most experienced cooks, making a soufflé can be intimidating. I’ve begun to play around with soufflé recipes, each time remembering a couple of tricks to ensure my soufflé always rises.
To begin, you make a white roux, cooking melted butter with flour until the raw scent of the flour is gone. As long as you keep your heat on medium or medium-high, and watch and stir your roux, it won’t burn. To the roux, you add seasonings and milk to create the béchamel. The key here is to essentially bring this mixture to a boil, constantly stirring the bottom so the roux dissolves into the milk, which will cause the mixture to thicken. How thick is thick? You want the mixture to stop moving clockwise when you stop stirring it clockwise.
I also don’t use cream of tartar when whipping my egg whites. Instead, I always make sure there are no traces of egg yolk in my whites, and that I whip them to stiff peaks (I still raise the bowl upside down with a little shake to test this). Once I fold the whites together with the cheese, I’m very gentle, taking care to not deflate my whites, or the soufflé won’t rise.
This is a simple soufflé recipe that you can put on the table within an hour. Serve with a hearty green salad with beets, or simply alone for a light appetizer. Just remember to serve it immediately, before it begins to fall as it cools.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the insides of four 2-cup soufflé dishes and dust with flour to coat.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Cook until the raw flour smell is gone. Off the heat, add the milk, salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg and whisk well, making sure to get all the flour off the bottom of the pan. Bring back to the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is nicely thick and smooth. Remove from heat and add in egg yolks, spinach, and cheese and combine well.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
Whisk ¼ of the whites into the cheese mixture to lighten, and then add the rest of the cheese mixture to the whites and gently fold in the cheese mixture (it will not be fully homogenous; don’t deflate your whites, as your soufflé won’t rise). Pour into soufflé dishes and place in the oven, turning the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the soufflés have risen and the tops are no longer wobbly (if you’re using a 4-cup dish, your soufflé will need about 30 minutes).