Rising to the Occasion – Lancaster County Corn Souffle with Gruyere

I’ve never made a souffle before.  What I knew about souffles was what everyone knows about souffles – that you have to tiptoe around the kitchen and make as little noise as possible, lest you cause the delicate, puffy concoction in the oven to collapse.  I think it’s this one notion that keeps more people from trying their hand at making one.

Well, it was the end of August, and the supermarket had this immense island of corn, going for something ridiculously cheap.  I had wanted to incorporate summer corn into the menu for the engagement party, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to approach it.

I picked up eight ears of corn and pored through my library.  I found this recipe for corn souffle back in issue #13 of Saveur (and found online here).  I tried to scale the proportions of the ingredients to make a souffle that would fit into a larger dish, but, as it turns out, when it comes to whipping egg whites, you can’t just multiply ingredients to come up with a bigger portion.  I had enough souffle batter to fill one large dish and two smaller ones.

After popping everything in the oven, I was curious about this whole souffle thing, so I turned on the oven light to see how they were coming along.  The tops of each souffle were rising steadily, and quite impressively, and the melted gruyere was forming a nice, brown crust.  And, to dispel the myth, we made no attempt to maintain a quiet environment in the kitchen during this time – people were coming in and out, dishes were being washed, and other recipes were being prepared.  Yes, they will deflate once you poke a serving spoon into them, so if you’re going for presentation, you may want to hold off and serve at the table.

In the end, the souffles were amazing.  The larger of the souffle dishes turned out a little underdone, but the smaller ones were perfect.  As a whole, the dish was a perfect way to highlight the freshness of local summer corn, and definitely something I am eager to repeat next summer.  Until then, I’m looking for more souffle recipes – they’re cheap and easy (like all egg dishes) and can be varied to suit what’s available.