Few Southerners might think of pimento cheese as a dish that’s on the rise. Not only do countless home cooks have their own beloved handed-down recipes, but you can find the classic party spread everywhere from grocery stores to fine-dining restaurants. But in the new cookbook, Wine Food, it’s literally risen: A towering pimento cheese soufflé. As with all recipes in the book, co-authors Dana Frank, a sommelier, and recipe developer Andrea Slonecker offer suggested wine pairings—for this dish’s Cheddar tang, they recommend a fruity and chilled Gamay. “Have the table set and everyone ready to eat when it comes out,” they write. “This soufflé, like any other, is best served when the puff is most dramatic, piping hot and fresh out of the oven.”
Food & Drink
Pimento Cheese Soufflé
Serves 4 to 6
A mile-high spin on the Southern classic
photo: eva kolenko
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
3 packed tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups whole milk
6 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 (6 oz.) jar diced pimento peppers, drained
¼ cup sour cream
3 tbsp. minced fresh chives
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp. plus a pinch of kosher salt, or to taste
½ tsp. sweet paprika
6 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large egg white
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the bottom third. Generously grease a 2 ½ -quart straight-sided soufflé dish or saucepan (or 6 to 8 individual soufflé dishes) with butter.
Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes. Pour in the milk, whisking to prevent lumps, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is very thick and smooth, whisking the bottom and edges of the pan often, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Cheddar cheese until completely melted and velvety smooth. Next, add Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pimento peppers, sour cream, chives, mustard, 1 ½ tsp. of the salt, and paprika, whisking until smooth. Stir in the 6 egg yolks. Taste and adjust the seasoning; the flavor should be very robust, cheesy, and fairly salty. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer and a very clean, grease-free bowl, beat the 7 egg whites with the pinch of salt to firm, glossy peaks, meaning that when the whisk is drawn from the whites, a peak forms and the tip just barely curls back on itself. Using a flexible spatula or wooden spoon, fold one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the cheesy base sauce to lighten the mixture, then fold in the rest until just barely incorporated, scooping and gently rolling the two together to preserve as much volume as possible.
Scrape the soufflé mixture into the prepared dish, filling it no more than an inch from the top. (If you have any left over, consider making additional smaller dishes.) Wipe clean the exposed inside edge of the dish and place the soufflé on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the soufflé is puffed high, deeply browned on top, and still quite jiggly, 30 to 35 minutes (or 15 to 20 minutes for individual servings).
Recipe from Wine Food by Dana Frank and Andrea Slonecker
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