- Leaves and tender stems from 1 bunch spinach
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- Scant teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of freshly ground white pepper or cayenne
- 1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan
- 5 eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- Wash the spinach in several changes of water until no dirt remains. Lift the leaves out of the water into a saucepan, then drain off as much water as you can from the pan. Cover and cook over low heat, turning occasionally, until all the spinach has wilted. Uncover and let sit until cool enough to handle, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Chop the spinach finely and set aside. (If you’re bothered by throwing away all the vitamins in the “pot liquor” from cooking the spinach, then pour it into a glass and drink it. It’s good for you, and the taste isn’t half bad.)
- Melt 2 1⁄2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook this mixture (roux) over medium-low heat until the flour just begins to color, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the roux to a heat-proof container (a metal measuring cup works fine), then add the milk to the empty saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the roux back to the hot milk and stir with a whisk to dissolve any lumps as the sauce thickens.
- Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stir in the chopped spinach and half the cheese, and adjust the seasoning. Set aside until ready to add the eggs.
- Rub the inside of eight 4-ounce ramekins with the remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon butter, dust the insides with Parmesan, and turn to coat the bottom and sides with the cheese before knocking out the excess.
- Separate the eggs, dropping the whites into a mixing bowl and adding 4 of the yolks to the spinach mixture (save the remaining yolk for another purpose, or discard it). Stir the sauce to incorporate the yolks. Beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or an egg beater to the stiff peak stage (when you invert the beater, the egg white that drips off will hold its shape rather than flopping over). Immediately scoop a quarter of the beaten whites into the sauce, using a rubber spatula, and stir gently to combine, then fold this mixture into the bowl of whites until combined (see Note).
- Scoop and pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins, distributing the sauce and whites as evenly as possible, and dust the tops with any remaining cheese. Set the ramekins in a sheet pan or roasting pan (for easier handling) and place immediately in the middle of the preheated oven.
- Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes (do not open the oven during the first 12 minutes or the soufflés may fall). Set the ramekins directly on the dinner plates and serve immediately.
1. Try this with a Classic Standing Rib Roast to complete the meal.
2. To “fold” ingredients into egg whites, whipped cream, or other light mixtures, insert a rubber spatula vertically into the center of the bowl, push it to the bottom, then scoop it toward the side of the bowl and upward, lifting some of the mixture and finally turning it out onto the top. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the process until the mixture is fairly even. The idea is to combine the lighter and heavier elements without knocking all the air out of the lighter one.
If you don’t have enough ramekins to make individual soufflés, you can get pretty good results making a dozen in an ordinary muffin pan; use a knife and narrow spatula to remove them in the latter case, and figure that some of them will get mangled. (If they don’t, some folks get seconds.) It’s probably better just to make a normal soufflé in an 8-cup baking dish and scoop out servings at the table. Cooking time for an 8-cup soufflé will be more like 25 minutes at 375˚F.
Good to know
This recipe combines and replaces two classic accompaniments to roast beef, creamed spinach and Yorkshire pudding. You will need as many ramekins (the kind that look like miniature soufflé dishes, about 3 1⁄2 inches across and half as deep) as you have guests; otherwise, see the variation.
The timing assumes that you are making these to go with the Classic Standing Rib Roast, and baking them while the roast rests before carving. You can cook the spinach and make the sauce anytime while the meat is in the oven, or up to an hour ahead, but don’t start beating the egg whites until the oven is available. If you’ve never made a soufflé before, you’d better start with the standard whole form in the variation following the recipe.
Which beer should I drink with this?
Porter, stout, or pale ale.