Sunday, November 9, 2008

Don't Fear the Souffle

It's hard to come up with a catchy title when talking about souffle. What I really want to express is that souffle is a very simple dish. I think many people are scared of souffles, but honestly they are very forgiving.

The other thing about a souffle is that it can be a very appealing way to cook foods that some in the family may not care for. For example, Big J really does not like sweet potatoes; that is, he didn't like sweet potatoes until I made sweet potato souffle.

One of the great things about this particular dish is that it is light -- it's not a heavy casserole weighted down with a gooey sweet topping of marshmallows. Although, frankly, I like that dish mostly because I love the toasting brown marshmallows. Traditionally sweet potato dishes are served at Thanksgiving, and who can stomach a really heavy casserole amidst the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and homemade rolls? The souffle is a lighter addition to the meal.

In any case, a couple years ago I came across a recipe for Sweet Potato and Gruyere Souffle. As is, it is delicious. But little j didn't care for the onions; actually neither did I. Plus, I have this whole sweet vs. savory thing which I just can't get over, so I switched it up a little bit.

Should you be looking for a new 'show-off' dish for Thanksgiving, this might be it. I know it will be on That Girl's Thanksgiving table.

Sweet Potato Souffle

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the souffle dish
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
4 large eggs, separated

Butter a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish and set aside.

Mash sweet potatoes and mix in maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a large heavy saucepan melt butter over medium low heat until just beginning to brown. Add the flour and whisk to form a roux. Stir for three minutes. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream whisking continuously. Simmer the mixture, whisking, until thickened.

Off heat, whisk in sweet potato mixture. Whisk in egg yolks one at a time.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they just hold stiff peaks, whisk one fourth of them into the sweet potato mixture to lighten it, and fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish.

Bake the soufflé in the middle of a preheated 375°F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it is puffed and golden. Serve the soufflé immediately.

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