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Mac and Cheese Soufflé with Country Ham from Sweet Potatoes Restaurant

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Mac and Cheese Soufflé with Country Ham [Photograph: Steve Legato]

Eggy, custard-based mac and cheese casseroles were a staple on the many potluck tables I ate from while growing up in the South. Most of these were overcooked and curdled versions of this dish, leaving me to shun eggy macs at every opportunity. Yet while it contains almost a half-dozen eggs, the Mac and Cheese Soufflé with Country Ham in Ellen Brown's Mac & Cheese is far from the dreaded dishes of my youth.

This soufflé-like casserole is adapted from Sweet Potatoes Restaurant in Winston-Salem, and it offers much more than just macaroni, cheese, and eggs. The custard base contains sour cream in addition to heavy cream for added tang and texture; the pasta is mixed with not just mild yellow cheddar, but also blue cheese and Parmesan. Tiny morsels of country ham sautéed in bacon drippings aren't really necessary, but can you really say no to a little extra pork?

Why I picked this recipe: This egg-based "soufflé" offered a departure from the many roux-based sauces and harkened back to my Southern roots.

What worked: Cheddar plus blue cheese plus country ham equals salty, funky, porky awesomeness.

What didn't: My soufflé never really souffléd, but I wasn't surprised—the mixture of whole eggs, heavy cream, and sour cream sounds more like a custard than a soufflé mixture to me. It poofed a little bit, but I never got a characteristic rise. No matter, the casserole was just fine as it was.

Suggested tweaks: If you can't find country ham, you can substitute prosciutto or even deli ham. I didn't have a proper soufflé dish, so I substituted a 2 quart ceramic baking dish.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Mac & Cheese to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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