This is some time of year for corn lovers. Go to any good farm stand and you’ll find delicious stalks of the stuff in total abundance. Like asparagus in spring or pumpkins in fall, corn is one of those late summer foods that just doesn’t taste the same any other time of year. Basic steamed corn on the cob with butter, salt and pepper is by far the easiest preparation, but I think Island Bites readers are ready for something requiring just a little more finesse.
This savory corn soufflé isn’t a true soufflé by classic French cooking standards, but it does use beaten egg whites. When beating them, you are looking for what’s known as “soft peaks,” which is when the whites can slightly hold their shape when you hold the whisk upright.
Follow these basic rules when beating egg whites:
1. Your eggs should be at room temperature. Go ahead and take them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before separating the whites into a bowl. An hour is even better!
2. Use a clean, dry metal bowl. Glass bowls don’t work as well. The best is copper, but any stainless steel bowl will work fine. And make sure your whisk is clean and dry as well.
3. Your whites should be free and clear of any egg yolk particles before beating.
4. Consider adding a tiny pinch of salt or cream of tartar to your whites before beating. It will help stabilize them and increase the volume.
5. Make sure air is getting into those whites. Concentrate on “lifting” them up with each whisk stroke instead of just beating side to side.
6. Your whites are ready when you have the “soft peaks.”
And that’s about all you need to know. Once you get it, you’ll be well on your way to making luscious savory and sweet soufflés as well as other preparations. The rest of the recipe couldn’t be simpler. You just need a food processor or blender. I like to serve the soufflé as a first course with a small salad on the side.
Savory Corn Soufflé
5 ears corn, shucked
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 small can roasted chiles
1 cup half & half
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
1 tablespoon butter to grease pan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic
4 eggs, whites separated from yolks
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a baking or casserole dish. Carefully cut kernels off each cob. In a food processor (or blender), place half the kernels and reserve other half in large bowl. To the food processor, add the egg yolks, cream, salt, pepper, garlic, cheese, flour, half & half, onion and pinch of cayenne. Blend ingredients until smooth (about 15-30 seconds). In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until “soft peaks” form on your whisk. To the bowl with the reserved kernels, add chiles and the blended mixture, and then carefully fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot immediately.
Chef’s note: As with any egg preparation, go with the freshest ones you can possibly find. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of fresh eggs on Shelter Island.