The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Rutabaga Souffle

June 28th, 2010 · No Comments · Posted in garden, Recipes

Souffle for potluck buffet

Souffle for potluck buffet

Could there be a more maligned vegetable than the rutabga? Most people don’t even know what it is. Cousin to the turnip, it’s bigger and yellower. Some people call it “Swede.” We call rutabaga sublime, especially after it’s been souffled.

We hold a great deal of affection for this recipe from the February 1991 issue of Gourmet magazine and an article devoted to rutabagas and turnips. Besides this cheesy souffle, the editors suggested a rutabaga soup with crisp-fried onions, a turnip and parsnip puree, crispy braised duck with turnips and olives, brainsed oxtail with rutabaga, grated turnip cakes with ham, rutabaga and potato gratin and glazed turnips with scallions.

Message: don’t turn up your nose at rutabagas and turnips.

Until this year, we’d never had great success growing rutabagas in our kitchen garden here in the Distict of Columbia, about a mile from the White House. But after applying a big pile of compost to our beds in the spring, the vegetables went wild. The rutubaga plants were enormous: the foliage looked like something from the Amazon rain forest. And the roots came up big and bursting with flavor. We harvested the last of them about a week ago, or three months after planting from seed.

Souffles aren’t nearly as difficult as they’re made out to be. If you can whisk egg whites, you can make a souffle. In this case, you cook a pound of rutabaga, then process it with a roux made with some of the cooking liquid. Fold in egg whites and cheddar cheese and you are almost home. The occasion for this souffle was a meetup of some of the folks from the parents group agitating for better school food here in D.C. As you can see from the photo, everyone brought something for the buffet: a locally-sourced frittata, currant muffins, a quinoa and vegetable salad.

Add some bubbly Prosecco and you are good to go.

For the rutabaga souffle:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a souffle dish and dust with bread crumbs. Then fit the dish with a 6-inch band of aluminum foil, also buttered and dusted with bread crumbs, to form a collar extending about 3 inches above the rim of the dish. I secure it with butcher’s twine.

In a large saucepan place 1 pound rutabaga peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Cover with about 2 cups water and season with salt. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rutabaga is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain rutabaga in a colander set over a bowl. Reserve the liquid.

In the same pan, melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter over moderately low heat. Stir in 1/4-cup flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of reserved cooking liquid and, whisking, bring to a boil. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Blend cooked rutabaga and sauce in a food processor or blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. (I did not add any salt: there’s plenty in the cheddar cheese to come.)

Separate six eggs. Transfer rutabaga mixture to a bowl and mix in egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the rutabaga mixture, then fold in the remaining whites and 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated.

Pour the final mixture into the souffle dish and bake the souffle in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, at which point it should be puffed and golden and cooked fairly solid. Give it a jiggle. If the souffle does not appear set, leave it in the oven a fe minutes longer.

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