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Leek and Potato Soufflé With Ham and Fontina

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Contain your skepticism: A soufflé made with mashed potatoes doesn’t have to be heavy, as David Tanis revealed in 2012. “The two textures can complement each other, resulting in a dish that tastes light but has an underlying heartiness,” he says. This one gets added flavor from leeks and ham. If you’re new to soufflé-making, this is a good place to start. The potatoes provide a structure that a regular butter and flour roux don’t, he wrote, so it’s less likely to fall.

Ingredients


  • 1 ½


    pounds yellow-fleshed potatoes, like Yukon or Bintje, peeled and chopped

  • 1 ½


    cups half-and-half or milk


  • Salt and pepper


  • 2


    tablespoons butter

  • 2


    medium leeks, white and tender green parts, diced (about 2 cups)

  • 1


    teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 2


    garlic cloves, minced


  • Pinch cayenne



  • Grated nutmeg, to taste


  • 4


    ounces thick-sliced cooked ham, diced

  • 4


    ounces coarsely grated fontina or Gruyère

  • 3


    eggs, separated

  • 1


    tablespoon butter for buttering the baking dish

  • 1


    ounce finely grated Parmesan

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Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In well-salted water, boil the potatoes until tender, then drain, put in a large mixing bowl and mash with the half-and-half. Cool slightly.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened but still bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Add thyme and garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the cooked leeks to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Add the cayenne, nutmeg, ham and Fontina or Gruyère. Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning. (It should be fairly well seasoned, as the egg, when added, will dilute the flavor.) Beat in the 3 egg yolks.
  3. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with half the grated Parmesan.
  4. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir 1/3 of the beaten whites into the potato mixture to lighten and thin it slightly. Quickly fold in the remaining whites, then scrape the soufflé batter into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes, until nicely browned. Check the center for doneness with a paring knife or skewer. May rest 10 minutes before serving.
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