In The (Pre-Thanksgiving) Recipe Lab: John Besh’s ‘Sweet Potato Souffle’

09-demian-repucci-recipe-lab-besh-1Flipping through the latest issue of Metropolitan Home, I came across an article about chef John Besh, his four boys and some fabulous (yet down-home) holiday feast.  As I have been thinking about new dishes to accompany our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner, the one recipe in the article that caught my eye was for ‘Sweet Potato Souffles With Sticky Rum Goo’.  I was interested because of the incorporation of sweet potatoes, that sweet starch traditionally paired with turkey, made sweeter by the typical addition of heaps of brown sugar, ridiculous mini marshmallows or whatever.  I was also interested by the fact that I had never made a souffle before.  Terrible, I know.  There is no rum in the house at the moment but I figured I could just test the souffle portion of the recipe and if it turned out well I could always run out for some rum to whip up the ‘goo’. Heck, any excuse to buy alcohol is a good one as far as I am concerned. 

09-demian-repucci-recipe-souffle-3aThe recipe gives the option to make either one big souffle or split it into six small ramekins for indiviual portions.  Even though John is holding the big guy in the photo I decided to go for the smaller ramekins because, well, that’s what I have on hand (that’s my version on the right, in the combo photo above).  With the potatoes roasted the night before, the recipe itself is pretty simple… if a little time consuming.  ‘Ricing’ the potatoes takes a while and whipping the egg whites takes a while.  But soon enough I had it in the oven.  The recipe calls for 20 minutes in small ramekins and 45 to 50 minutes in the big ramekin.  Unfortunately, upon inspection at 20 minutes, the souffles were nowhere near cooked through.  I ended up giving them another 20 minutes.  But, as you  can see from the photo, I probably could have given them another 10 as my tops are barely starting to brown whereas John’s has a nice looking dark crust.  So allow yourself more time than the recipe calls for.  I guess I just got worried that they would over cook since I was way past the time prescribed in the recipe.

09-demian-repucci-recipe-souffle-4aAs for the final product, the souffles are very good.  The slight earthy sweetness of sweet potatoes comes through.  Though I must admit that they didn’t taste as sweet as other sweet potato dishes I have had in the past.  Of course maybe that is due to the copious amounts of brown sugar and marsh mallows I mentioned earlier.  There was much more of an earthy taste.  I think if I had to do it over again I might add a bit more sugar to these souffles to push it squarely into the dessert category.  And maybe give it a little more taste complexity by adding an alcohol component such as cognac (or that rum) to the souffle itself.  Instead of just in the sauce.  And maybe orange zest too? 

Anyway, the boss took a bite and said “this is really good”.  I wasn’t sure if she meant that in a ‘wow, this tastes great’ sort of way, or a ’wow, you pulled off a souffle!’ sort of way.  I said “thanks… but I wonder if it is worth all this effort”.  She said, “that’s always the question with souffles”.  Now that I know the time adjustments I could give the golden brown crust another try.  And I could put the effort into make the ’rum goo’ component of the recipe.  But… the boss may have a point.