Cheese Grits Soufflé

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

One of the hallmarks of Southern cookin’ is grits—ground dent corn simmered with water, milk, or stock, whose most famous accompaniment is red-eye gravy made from ham fat and coffee. (I worked with a chef from the South who swore by the addition of a little Coca-Cola.) Here, grits are woven into a soufflé. Use old-fashioned stone-ground grits if at all possible. They take longer to cook, but the flavor is infinitely better than the so-called instant or quick-cooking varieties. I love the grits from Hoppin’ John’s in Charleston, South Carolina. Any cooked cereal—farina, cream of rice, cream of wheat— can be the base for a soufflé. Use these proportions to guide your experiments.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock or your favorite canned broth
  • 1 cup light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 cup grits, preferably stone-ground
  • 6 large eggs
  • cups grated cheddar, fontina, or Gruyère cheese
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced or mashed poached or roasted garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Drops of hot sauce to taste

Method

Butter a 2-quart soufflé or straight-sided baking dish and lightly coat with the Parmesan, turning the dish to coat the whole interior. Chill in the refrigerator.

In a deep saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup of water, the stock, and the cream to a boil. Stir in the grits, reduce the heat, and stir regularly until the mixture is smooth, creamy, and thick, about 15 minutes.

Separate the eggs, leaving the whites in a large bowl and the yolks in a medium bowl.

Beat the egg yolks and then slowly beat in a little of the grits mixture to warm and temper the yolks. Stir in the rest of the grits, along with the cheese, garlic, and chives, and slightly overseason (yes, that’s right) with salt, pepper, and drops of hot sauce. You can set this mixture aside covered and at room temperature for up to 2 hours before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Stir a quarter of the whites into the grits mixture to lighten it and then fold in the remaining whites and spoon the mixture into the chilled soufflé dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the mixture is set, puffed, and golden brown. Serve immediately.