• The recipe makes about 6 cups of batter which should fit perfectly in a 1½-quart soufflé dish, leaving ½ to 1 inch of headspace for it to rise. But you can use any glass or ceramic casserole. If square is your deal, use an 8 x 8 glass baking dish. The rise may not be as significant and cooking time will be slightly shorter.
• Prepare the grits following Basic Stovetop Grits or Basic Pressure Cooker Grits, leaving out salt and butter. For the richest soufflé, use half-and-half or milk for half of the cooking liquid. (check out cooking liquids tips and suggestions.
• We use Chris Bryant's Pimento Cheese in this recipe because it's extra spicy and flavorful, but you can use store bought.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.
Grease a 1½- to 2-quart soufflé dish with butter or cooking spray. Dust the sides with grated parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, or cornmeal then shake out the excess.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the grits, pimento cheese, diced pimento, scallion, hot pepper sauce, black pepper, salt, and jalapeño (save some slices for the top). Lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork and stir them into the grits batter.
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. With a spatula, dip out about ⅓ of the egg whites and fold into the grits to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites, mixing just until there are no streaks of white. Don't over blend. The mixture will resemble cornbread batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared soufflé dish. You can create a classic soufflé “crown” by pulling a knife around the circumference—about 1 inch from the edge and ½-inch deep. Note: The cut fills-in then reappears as the soufflé rises.
Place the dish in the oven and reduce the temperature to 350˚F. Bake until the outer edge of the soufflé is firm and the center is still slightly quivery—usually 50 to 60 minutes. Some ovens may cook faster, some slower. If you have an instant read thermometer, the center should be at or nearing 140˚ F.
Note: Overcooked eggs separate into curds and water, so it’s better to err on the side of less-cooked if unsure that the soufflé is done. Also keep in mind that the soufflé continues to firm up a few minutes out of the oven. If the center is runnier than you prefer after 5 to 10 minutes out of the oven, finish it in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
Remove the Pimento Cheese Grits Soufflé from oven and wait about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. The soufflé reheats nicely in the microwave.