Monday, September 5, 2011

Fallen Grits Souffles with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

I'm not really sure what inspired me to make this recipe.  When I stumbled across the recipe I was trying to find recipes that I thought would show off my sun gold tomatoes to their advantage.  There were a bunch of salad recipes and pasta recipes using cherry tomatoes, but I just wasn't feeling either of those things.  Then I saw this recipe.  I love grits.  I like soufflés.  And it featured the raw cherry tomatoes drizzled with evoo and seasoned with s&p on top.  I figured what the hell?  It sounded really different and I like different.  Plus it's fun to mix it up when you have the time to do so.  And given that today is Labor Day, we had plenty of time.  Granted, we didn't eat lunch until 4:00 pm because it took a lot longer to prepare than we had anticipated (one day I will learn to read the recipe all the way through before cooking), but seeing as we had no real plans and didn't eat breakfast until 11:30 am it wasn't a problem.

So this was an interesting meal to make.  And a tasty meal.  Something that you would put on a brunch spread the first time your in-laws came to stay for the weekend if you were inclined to put out a brunch spread.  But neither Alex nor I were certain that it was entirely worth the effort.  I don't know that it was any better than the Creamy Cheddar Grits that we made earlier this year.  The cheddar grits are luscious and comforting - exactly what you think of when you think grits.  The soufflé was much lighter, both intrinsically as a soufflé and due to the brightness and acidity of the cherry tomatoes.  The soufflé is also infinitely more elegant, but I'm generally not looking for elegant when I am craving grits.  Sun gold tomatoes, soufflé and aged goat cheese are just inherently elegant.  I thought the dish was fun (if labor intensive) to make, nice to eat and beautiful to look at, but who knows if I would ever take the time and effort to make it again.  As with all soufflés, I feel like the presentation is what you are going for rather than taste.  There are tons of preparations that I think are tastier or more satisfying (or at the very least just as tasty or satisfying) than a soufflé, but nothing that can match up to it in sheer wow factor.

Recipe after the jump!

Fallen Grits Souffles with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese 
Adapted from Bon Appetit
January 2006
For Soufflés
4 cups whole milk
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 cup instant grits
2 tablespoons butter
5 large eggs, separated
For Tomatoes
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
sea salt
Shaved aged goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Generously butter a 2 quart soufflé dish. Combine first 4 ingredients in large saucepan. Bring just to simmer; remove from heat and let steep 10 minutes. Strain; return milk to pan. Add salt; bring to boil. Gradually stir in grits and cook over medium heat until mixture is thick and grits are tender, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Mix in butter. Season with black pepper. Stir in egg yolks. Cool slightly.

Beat egg whites in large bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into grits in 2 additions. Pour mixture into prepared soufflé dish. Place soufflé dish in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of dish.
Bake soufflé until top is puffed and beginning to brown and center is set, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Combine tomatoes and oil in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon tomatoes atop soufflé. Top with shaved goat cheese and serve immediately.

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