Pimento Cheese Grits Soufflé

October 20, 2016

pimento-cheese-grits-souffle-in-casserole

Relax. This is not a high pressure soufflé. Grits act as a stabilizer so there's none of that scurrying to the table before the soufflé falls drama. Quite the opposite. Our charming soufflé rises pleasingly but modestly, then asks for a few minutes to collect itself, and patiently waits for what comes next. 

Pimento cheese, the tangy cheddar and roasted pimento spread, is combined with Barkley's Mill heirloom white corn grits to create a sumptuous soufflé that’s entirely versatile. For a light main dish, simply serve it with a crunchy green salad. If you want more, add grilled fish or shrimp. Or head in the brunchy direction with bacon or sausages. As a side, Pimento Cheese Grits Soufflé wins out any day over mac & cheese as most likely to succeed with the likes of fried chicken and pulled pork.  

 

Makes 6 servings  |  Cooking time: about 2 hours, including preparing the grits

 

pimento-cheese-grits-souffle-served-with-salad
Some Prep Notes

• 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.

 

Ingredients

  • Butter or cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, fine breadcrumbs, or cornmeal
  • 3 cups prepared Barkley’s Mill Stone Ground Heirloom Grits, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup Chris Bryant's Pimento Cheese
  • ⅓ cup (almost 3 ounces) drained and diced pimento or roasted red pepper
  • ⅓ cup (2–3) finely chopped scallion, whites and greens
  • 1–2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced (optional)
  • 5 eggs—whites separated into a large mixing bowl, yolks into a small bowl

 

Method

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.

pimento-cheese-grits-souffle-served-with-salad





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