by Fred McMillin
Salmon Soufflé with Chardonnay
"One of the first soufflé recipes I have seen appears in the 1814 Art of the Chef by Antoine Beauvilliers."
...Esther Aresty, The Delectable Past
The Rest of the Story
Who was this soufflé pioneer? Let's turn to the words of perhaps the world's greatest gastronome, Brillat-Savarin. (Both Brillat and Beauvilliers survived the French Revolution). Brillat wrote...
"Beauvilliers established [Paris' first restaurant] toward 1782. He was the first to have an elegant dining room, handsome well-trained waiters, a fine cellar, and a superior kitchen. Beauvilliers had a prodigious memory; he recognized and welcomed, after twenty years, people who had eaten perhaps once or twice at his restaurant.
Toward the end of his life he published a work in two octavo volumes called the L'Art du Cuisinier. Never before that time had cookery been discussed with so much method and precision."
Hot soufflés rise chiefly because the air in beaten egg whites expands as it warms. and sure enough, Beauvilliers' recipe calls for folding in four beaten egg whites.
Another French chef who appreciated the dish was Auguste Escoffier. There are SIXTY soufflé recipes in our yellowed copy of his 1911 A Guide to Modern Cookery. His version of that Beauvilliers recipe is similar, but on a larger scale: TEN egg whites. In any case, my wife added freshly-poached salmon to the mix, and here's the wine that paired so well with it.
Wine of the Day
Salmon and Chardonnay are a classic pair. With this delicate dish, we prefer a Chardonnay with a bit of bottle age, which reduces the tartness and adds other, pleasing flavors. Here it is.
1995 Napa Valley Estate Chardonnay
There are dessert soufflés as well. As to serving them, a contemporary of Beauvilliers's, Chef Louis Ude, wrote this advice that will never go flat: If served on time they are very good eatING. If not, they are no better than puddING! (The Horizon Cookbook, W.H. Hale)
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