The flavours in this soufflé are simple but classic. I love the nuttiness of the Comté and the natural saltiness of the pancetta.
- 25 g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 25 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 250 ml (1 cup) full cream milk
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black or white pepper
- 1 pinch grated nutmeg
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 eggs, separated
- 140 g Comté, finely grated
Thyme and pancetta sauce
- 400 ml pouring cream (at least 45% fat)
- 8 thin slices pancetta
- 2 small sprigs thyme, plus extra for garnish
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
For the béchamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, add the flour and stir continuously with a whisk for about 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir with a whisk.
Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and add the bay leaf, increase the heat to medium and cook, while stirring regularly, for 5-10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and set aside to slightly cool to warm.
Brush four 125 ml (½ cup) capacity ramekins with the melted butter, then coat the inside of each dish with flour - tap out any excess flour.
When the béchamel has cooled to warm, remove the bay leaf, then stir in 60 g of the cheese, a little bit at a time, making sure it’s well combined.
Add the egg yolks, stirring well making sure the mix is smooth. Pour into a large clean bowl.
Beat the eggwhites with a pinch of salt until firm and foamy. Gently fold the eggwhites, one third at a time, into the béchamel using a spatula, making sure there are not white streaks.
Divide the mixture among the ramekins, filling them no more than three-quarters of the way.
Place the dishes in a large roasting pan and bake on the middle rack for 25-35 minutes or until just set and golden.
For the thyme and pancetta sauce, gently heat the cream and thyme in a small saucepan over medium low heat.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta until just crisp.
Add 4 crisp pancetta slices to the cream and reduce until a coating consistency. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Thinly slice the remaining crisp pancetta and set aside for garnishing.
When the soufflés are just-cooked, take them out of the oven and let them cool down for about 10 minutes (they will deflate, which is normal). Run a knife around the edge of the ramekuins, turn upside down and tap onto a plate to remove the soufflés – they should easily fall out.
Place the soufflés, upside down, on individual baking dishes, pour over the sauce and scatter over the remaining cheese.
Bake on the middle rack for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese melts and the soufflés puff up. In the last few minutes of cooking, finish the soufflés under the grill (moving them to the top rack) to get a nice crispy cheese crust.
Garnish with the pancetta and thyme sprigs and serve immediately.
This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.
This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.