This month a fellow Spanish blogger was challenging us to prepare a soufflé. The name of this dish comes from the French and means literally blown up. I think I’ve prepared a soufflé only once in my life before this, back in the mists of time, and I barely remember it. Bad thing, because if it had been memorable, I would remember. But that means too that it was not a complete disaster. You know that soufflé is a classic dish in French cuisine, which can be sweet or savory, and when it is savory it is made almost always with a bechamel sauce base with egg yolks to which various flavorings can be added, then mixed with the egg whites beaten to stiff peaks, which are the element that gives the soufflé its lightness. Soufflés are baked in the oven, where, if well prepared, they greatly increase in volume. They have the disadvantage then that on cooling they can go down… deflate… demoralize… collapse. So, do not give them time. The best solution is just to devour them as quickly as possible… without warning.
Among the various preparation options we were given in the challenge, it was to prepare the soufflé with potatoes using their skins as containers. Good idea, nothing is wasted. Instead of the classic gruyére cheese, I decided to use Manchego cheese (you know of my liking for Manchego… or perhaps I should call it addiction), and to add just a little more spark, use some stir-fried soft garlic. And so I started out on a sunny January morning.
My source for the recipe is a beautiful video, here. And here goes my adaptation:
Soufflé potatoes with Manchego cheese and tender garlic
Yields four servings:
- 4 medium sized starchy potatoes
- 4 eggs
- 100g Manchego cheese
- 15ml virgin olive oil for rubbing the potatoes
- 30g butter
- 1 bunch of soft garlic (you can use more if you are a soft garlic lover)
- More virgin olive oil for frying the garlic
- Salt and pepper
- We start by preheating the oven to 180ºC to roast the potatoes. Wash the potatoes thoroughly and dry them very well. Rub them with the oil and coat them in salt (for the skins to get crispy) and place them on a baking dish. When the oven is hot, roast the potatoes for an hour or as required.
- In the meantime grate the cheese as finely as you want. Set aside.
- Clean the soft garlic, getting rid of the outer layers and slice finely; stir-fry with some olive oil on medium heat till wilted. Drain the oil and set aside too.
- Crack the eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Keep the whites in the fridge as they will be the last ingredient to be added to the soufflé mixture.
- When the potatoes are thoroughly baked and soft (check by piercing them with a knife) take them out and let them temper a little, enough to avoid burns. Cut in half and hollow them with a spoon; put the potato meat in a bowl. Set the skins aside for later. Lightly mash the potato with a fork while still warm.
- Raise the oven temperature to 200ºC.
- Beat yolks lightly and add to mashed potatoes, mix well.
- Add the butter, then the cheese and well drained garlic, then the salt and pepper. Check the seasoning, it should be on the salty side because you will still add the egg whites.
- Whisk the whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, preferably with some electric appliance if you have it. Carefully mix with the mashed potato, slowly and carefully to deflate the whites as little as possible.
- When thoroughly mixed, scoop portions of the mixture into the potato skins, just a little over the edge. After filling all the potatoes there will be leftover mixture enough to fill a small soufflé mold. Rub the mold with butter or oil, sprinkle with bread crumbs and pour the remaining soufflé mixture. The mold must be large enough to fit the surplus to a height of about 3/4. You can sprinkle all the soufflés with more cheese so that the tops brown nicely in the oven. Place the filled potatoes in a baking dish and bake everything around 15-20 minutes (the soufflé in the mold takes a tad more, as the amount is larger than in the potatoes).
- Remove the soufflés from the oven and devour, without burning your tongue. If the potatoes were fine enough, they can be eaten whole, skin and all.
This is a succulent and fairly easy recipe and, at least in small doses it does not present a great danger of collapsing. And I like these dishes to which you can add a lot of different ingredients to make them more varied. Tell me, have you ever attempted to make soufflé? Now you have run out of excuses.