Sam Beall's Carrot Soufflé

This is more of a casserole than a traditional soufflé. It comes from Sam Beall, the proprietor of Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, who died at age 39 in a ski accident. The dish makes its seasonal debut on the Beall family table at Thanksgiving, but paired with a salad, it becomes lunch or a light dinner any time of year. Use the sweetest carrot you can find, and grate the onions on the same grater you use for the cheese to save a little prep and clean-up time. Many of the steps are easy enough for children, making it a great dish for teaching cooking skills. It will become part of your winter rotation, and travels well.

Ingredients

  • 1tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to butter the dish
  • 2pounds carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1cup whole milk
  • 1cup crushed saltine crackers
  • ¾cup, or about 3 ounces, grated sharp Cheddar
  • ⅓cup minced or grated onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • ⅛teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3large eggs

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart soufflé dish or baking dish.
  2. Put the carrots in a large pot and cover with about an inch of water. Add a heaping tablespoon of salt and boil the carrots until they are tender enough to yield to the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the carrots and purée them in a food processor. Put them in a large bowl; stir in the milk, cracker crumbs, cheese, onion, butter, cayenne, black pepper and remaining salt.
  4. In another bowl, beat the eggs until they are quite foamy. Using a whisk and a gentle touch, mix the eggs into the carrot mixture.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the buttered dish and bake for about 45 minutes, until the soufflé is slightly puffed, light golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the dish. Serve warm.

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