This is a multiculti soufflé and it’s directly inspired by my family. My French stepmother came into my life when I was 12 and I remember watching in awe as she’d whip up cheese soufflés with the flick of her wrist. Even at that age, I’d read enough Seventeen magazine to know that I shouldn’t be eating a molten cheese puff for dinner, but truth is I’d pray that she’d serve it nightly.
A cooking classicist, Michele serves her soufflés with nothing more than a crusty baguette and a simple green salad with the vinegar-iest of vinaigrettes. Long before I’d ever stepped foot in Paris or muttered my first oui, I knew the fabulous-ness of all things French thanks to her cheese soufflés. But Michele married my half Irish father and, as a result, she’s learned to embrace lots of meat and potatoes.
When I wrote Keys To The Kitchen, I wanted to capture the mish-mosh influence that they’ve had on each other and on me and my cooking. Thus was born this half Irish, half French recipe that I call the Oatmeal Breakfast Soufflé. It’s basically your favorite bowl of morning oatmeal folded together with aged Cheddar cheese and chives for a dish that literally rises to great heights (sorry, couldn’t help the pun).
plus extra for coating the dish
for coating the dish
about 4 ounces
at room temperature
at room temperature
Heat oven to 375°F, arrange rack in lower third, and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Generously coat a 2-quart baking dish or a 6-cup soufflé dish with butter. Add a pinch of flour, rotate the dish to fully coat the inside with flour, then turn over and tap to get rid of any excess flour; set aside.
If it's particularly hot out, place the dish in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Combine milk, butter, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high until it just comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Add oats and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and oats are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, nutmeg, and chives until cheese is melted. Beat the yolks until smooth and slowly stir into oatmeal mixture.
Make sure to buy old-fashioned rolled oats and not instant.
Place egg whites in the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until peaks are stiff but not dry, about 1 minute more. Add 1/3 of the whites into the cheese mixture until blended and no white streaks are visible. Add remaining whites and chives and gently fold until thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared dish.
Make sure the bowl and whisk you use for the egg whites are impeccably clean as any fat or oils will keep the whites from keeping air. Older eggs whip up more easily and consistently than fresher eggs.
Place soufflé on the heated rimmed baking sheet and bake until it is well risen, the top is browned, the edges appear dry, and the center is set (it doesnt move if lightly touched and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean), about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Photo by Alex Farnum