Soufflés Les Halles


  • Serves 8 people

Even intrepid cooks can fear the flop of soufflés but with this more forgiving variety you will rise to the challenge. Damien Pignolet has the secrets to success.

  • 100 gm butter, plus extra softened for greasing
  • 115 gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 850 gm onions, thinly sliced
  • 400 ml milk
  • 130 ml highly reduced beef stock (see note)
  • 110 gm egg yolks (about 4), lightly beaten
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 270 gm eggwhites (about 9)
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 500 gm Gruyère de Comté, 100gm cut into 1cm dice, 300gm grated
  • 1 litre (4 cups) pouring cream
  • To serve: mixed-leaf salad dressed with walnut or hazelnut vinaigrette (see note)
01   Butter eight 240ml round-based bowls and dust with flour, knocking out excess. Melt butter in a pan over low heat, add onion and cook slowly over low heat until softened and lightly caramelised (25-30 minutes; ensure onions remain soft).
02   Cool onion for 10 minutes, stir in flour, return to heat and cook gently, stirring continuously, until a roux forms (3 minutes; it should look and feel creamy and be a fawn colour). Cool for 10 minutes. Bring milk to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, add stock and bring just to the boil. Gradually work in the roux off the heat with a wooden spoon, then return to heat and whisk thoroughly, especially into the corners of the pan, until the sauce boils.
03   Press a round of dampened baking paper onto the surface and cook on the lowest heat for 20 minutes, then cool for 5 minutes.
04   Gradually beat in the egg yolks with a wooden spoon, add nutmeg and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper to a slightly salty taste (the eggwhite will balance out the saltiness) and transfer to a bowl.
05   Preheat oven to 190C. Whisk eggwhites in a large bowl until foaming, add a pinch of salt and the cream of tartar (the latter is not needed if you’re using a copper bowl), then beat until fairly stiff peaks are achieved (6-8 minutes).
06   Fold a quarter of the eggwhite into the base mixture to lighten.
07   Scatter diced Gruyère over remaining eggwhite, then pour the base mixture onto eggwhite and fold quickly and lightly to combine.
08   Fill moulds almost to the top and knock each on the bench to remove air. Place in a baking dish, pour in near-boiling water to halfway up sides of bowls and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce to 180C and bake until soufflés are golden, well risen and tops begin to crack (20-25 minutes). Set aside to cool (they will collapse a little but this is correct; if making ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days).
09   Gently ease soufflés away from the edges of the moulds with your fingers. Dip each mould into very hot water, then turn out each into a 16cm-18cm ceramic gratin dish.
10   Fifteen minutes before serving, pour cream over each soufflé, scatter with grated Gruyère and bake at 190C until golden and bubbling and edges lift away from the dish (10-12 minutes; the soufflés should appear to float). Serve immediately with a mixed-leaf salad dressed with Damien’s walnut or hazelnut vinaigrette (see note).

Note For reduced stock, simmer 260ml beef stock until reduced by half. For vinaigrette, shake 1 part walnut or hazelnut oil, 2 parts neutral vegetable oil, 1-1½ parts cider or aged Sherry vinegar, a scrap of bruised garlic and salt and freshly ground white pepper in a screw-top jar, leave to infuse for 15 minutes, then remove the garlic.










May 2015

May 2015

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