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If sustainable chicken butchering wasn’t Food Ninja enough for you (one week left to enter the Food Ninja contest-do it::), how about giving water-bathed soufflés a whirl? This is a “soufflé” in the most hypermodern sense of the word. In other words, this aint your grandma’s souffle. It earmarks the fruits of my recent experimentation with egg whites and sous vide. It’s no secret I’m an unabashed fool for all things uova, but I was really more of a yolk kind of a girl- until now. Now I’m enjoying a renaissance of my appreciation for albumen and this is the culmination of my experimental accomplishments. I got the concept from the Spanish chef Raphael Peña, however I altered times, temperatures and ingredients so much (after preparing the dish numerous times) I am going to share my recipe.
But first I’m going to tantalize you with the sheer genius of this dish and assure you that if you make it, you’ll be licking not only your chops, but your plate, your neighbor’s plate, and maybe even some stray egg you spot on your neighbor’s upper lip. That sounds like one heckuva sexy party, but then, eggs are just sexy like that, no? It’s probably because they are the primordial origin of life, and I guess there is something inherently sexual about that. Yep, eggs are the ultimate aphrodisiac in my book, although I realize that sounds borderline cuckoo. Remember key parties? I propose sous vide soufflé parties instead, if you’re into that sort of thing, which I’m not, for the record.
Enough blather- what is that damn frothy concoction, you ask? Well it’s an egg yolk nestled into a pillow of stiff egg whites then topped with more egg white so the yolk is a hidden surprise inside the billowy cloud. It sits atop seasonal Parisienned vegetables, Jamón Ibérico and cream. Can you imagine anything more decadent? I can, actually. AS SOON as truffle (only Alba white for this girl) season hits full steam- it’s supposed to be a good one this year- I will be shaving a heaping lot on top.
Sous Vide Souffle on Parisienne Vegetables and Jamón Ibérico
- Serves 4 and takes 1 hour (more if you are a slow vegetable Parisienner)
For the vegetables & Jamón:
- ¼ lb chopped Jamón Ibérico (available in Seattle at Metropolitan Market)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 medium beets (red or golden), cut into Parisienne balls with a Parisienne scoop
- 2 parsnips, cut into Parisienne balls with a Parisienne scoop
- ½ delicata squash, cut into Parisienne balls with a Parisienne scoop
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into Parisienne balls with a Parisienne scoop
- (optional) 1 cup frozen organic peas
- ¼ c heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the egg soufflé:
- 4 eggs (I use duck) separated
- 1 tsp salt
To prepare the soufflés:
1. Heat your sous vide supreme or immersion circulator to 156°F. Establish the mise en plus for the eggs, as you want to work quickly. You will need four double-layered sheets of clingfilm slightly larger than a standard piece of paper, a 3” round cutter (approx), a stand mixer or hand beaters, kitchen twine, and either a half pan (if you have a sous vide supreme) or something small and heavily weighted that you can tie your souffles to (if you are using an immersion circulator). For the sous vide supreme method, be sure your water level is high enough that when you place a half pan inside the supreme (should fit perfectly), it just touches the water.
2. Beat egg whites and salt to stiff peaks. Place the cutter on a flat surface and lay one sheet of clingfilm over it, making a depression in the film where the cutter is. Spoon beaten egg white into the depression until the cutter is nearly full.
Gently place the egg yolk on top of the white.
Spoon just enough white over the yolk to cover it.
Gather the clingfilm as though it is a satchel, and tie it tightly just at the top of the egg white so you have a little beggar’s purse.
Quickly repeat for remaining eggs. (For immersion circulator method, tie your beggar’s purses around the heavy objects so they will remain immersed in the water bath.)
3. Drop the soufflés in the water bath (for sous vide supreme, cover with half pan so that pan keeps soufflés immersed, then fill half pan with water for stability). SET A TIMER for 24 minutes. Turn the oven on broil.
4. Once 24 minutes has elapsed, remove the purses from the water bath, quickly and carefully untie them, and place them tie side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet, taking care not to rip the soufflé (a small rubber spatula works well here).
5. Place them on medium rack in oven under broiler and WATCH CAREFULLY. When the soufflé just begins to brown at the top, remove from oven. This could be anywhere from 2-4 minutes. You do not want to overcook or your yolk will lose its runniness.
To prepare the vegetables:
- While the soufflés are in the water bath, blanch each vegetable separately in boiling, heavily-salted water until it is crisp tender. Approx 3 minutes for the beets, for the fennel it’s more like 30 seconds, and everything else is somewhere in between. Remove the vegetables to individual ice baths.
- In a large sauté pan, render the Jamón until it is nearly crisp. Add the butter and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the remaining vegetables and sauté for an additional 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cream and adjust the seasonings.
- Place a mound of vegetables in the center of a plate or shallow bowl. You can use a round cutter to keep the vegetables in order if you want a nice presentation.
- Gently place soufflés atop the vegetables. The real drama happens when you cut into a soufflé and the yolk comes gushing out, coating the vegetables.