Ham, eggs, and cheese are natural partners; along with dried mustard, these ingredients combine for some of the finest souffles around. The souffles will begin to deflate minutes after you take them out of the oven, so bring them to the table as soon as they're done. This is one of the many dishes featured in Executive Editor Dana Bowen's feature "The Wonders of Ham" (December 2009).
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 1 1⁄2 cups milk
- 4 oz. grated sharp white cheddar
- 1⁄2 tsp. mustard powder
- 1⁄8 tsp. cayenne
- 1⁄8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 6 eggs, separated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 oz. finely chopped ham (any variety will do)
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. finely chopped chives
- 1⁄4 cup finely grated Parmesan
In a 2-qt. saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots; cook until soft, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste; slowly add the milk while whisking. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the cheddar, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, egg yolks, and salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat until just steaming, 3-4 minutes. Transfer the cheese mixture to a large bowl; stir in ham and chives; chill for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 375°. Grease six 8-oz. ramekins with the remaining butter. Coat the bottom and sides of ramekins with Parmesan; shake out any excess. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Working in 3 batches, fold egg whites into the chilled cheese mixture to make a fluffy batter. Gently divide the batter between prepared ramekins and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. With a damp cloth, wipe away any of the soufflé batter that's splashed onto the ramekin rims. Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.