Just Try Not to Think About It

For some reason, this week I keep picking out recipes that require the use of more egg yolks than whites, so I’ve been scratching my head, trying to figure out what to do with the leftover whites. My usual egg white recipe is coconut macaroons, but since I’m making something with coconut for a holiday party at the end of the week, that seemed like overkill. Meringues seem obvious, but they aren’t our favorites. All my other brainstorms involved chocolate, and I feel like I’ve been eating too much of that lately.

Goat Cheese Souffles

Then it hit me: a savory soufflé. I’ve never actually made a soufflé before, savory or otherwise (and yes, my first instinct was to look up the chocolate soufflé recipes…bad Julie), and I found one that called for just the right number of whites. My approach was just to dive in without thinking about it too much, because I didn’t want to give myself time to worry about messing them up. As James Beard said, “The only thing that will make a soufflé fall is if it knows you are afraid of it.” So I forced myself not to worry, and my little goat cheese soufflés actually came together very smoothly, and puffed respectably to boot.

I was a little concerned that my white sauce base was too thick, because it pretty much turned to wallpaper paste as soon as I added the milk (eight minutes, my eye). My fluffy cloud of beaten egg whites, by comparison, looked much too voluminous to fold in successfully, but somehow it happened. The hardest part turned out to be timing everything so that the rest of the meal was ready to plate when the soufflés were done. I recruited Jeremy to be my food photographer so that I could keep working while he documented the inevitable rise and fall.

And the taste? Jeremy described it as being like a fluffy omelet, and I’d say that’s about right. They were nicely savory from the goat cheese, and very airy even after deflating. They would make a great brunch or lunch dish, especially since the base can be made in advance. Unfortunately, the two of us couldn’t quite eat them all and didn’t think they would keep or reheat with any dignity, so Freyja got an extra treat with her kibble.

Goat Cheese Souffle with Thyme

2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T unsalted butter
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C milk
2 T dry white wine or water
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp minced anchovy
3 1/2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 tsp thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, separated, plus 3 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 1-quart soufflé dish. Add the Parmesan and turn the dish to coat it with the cheese.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until blended. Whisk in the milk, wine, mustard and anchovy paste and cook, whisking, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the goat cheese and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the egg yolks. Scrape the soufflé mixture into a large bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. (The soufflé can be prepared through this step and refrigerated overnight. Bring the mixture to room temperature before proceeding.)

In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the beaten whites into the soufflé mixture; fold in the remaining whites until just a few streaks remain.

Gently scrape the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake the soufflé in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until nicely risen and browned on top. Serve at once. You can also prepare this soufflé in 6 6-oz ramekins; bake for 15-18 minutes.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food and Wine.

To go with the soufflés, I made some quick-cooking pork tenderloin medallions with a mustardy pan sauce. I got the tenderloin sliced, smushed (with my new meat mallet—love it!) and seasoned, the shallots chopped, and the water boiling for the steamed broccoli before folding the egg whites into the soufflé batter and filling my little ramekins. The pork cooked so quickly that it was ready to go when the soufflés came out all puffy.

Pork Medallions with Mustard-Caper Sauce

Pork Medallions with Mustard-Caper Sauce

1 8- to 10-oz pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 T butter
1/4 C sliced shallots
1 C canned low-salt chicken broth
2 T whipping cream
1 1/2 T drained capers
1 T coarse-grained Dijon mustard

Using meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten pork rounds slightly to scant 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet and sauté until brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate. Add shallots to skillet and stir 1 minute. Add chicken broth and cream. Boil until sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, stirring up browned bits, about 3 minutes. Mix in capers and mustard. Return pork to sauce. Simmer mixture until pork is heated through, about 1 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 2, can easily be doubled.

Source: Epicurious.

We both really liked this meal. Like I said, I finished the sauce for the pork while Jeremy snapped photos of the soufflés for me. Then I sent him off with his plate while arranging and photographing my own. Two or three minutes later, when I sat down with my plate to start eating, I glanced over at Jeremy and realized that he had already inhaled every bite of his dinner and was on his way back to the kitchen for another soufflé. I guess I should have made more pork!

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