To get the most crust with the cheesiest flavor, Jacques Pépin uses a wide, shallow gratin dish, then creates a lattice on top with thin slices of American cheese. A soufflé ramekin would work too.
Slideshow: How to Make Cheese Soufflé
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 slices of yellow American cheese, each cut into 6 strips
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease a 1-quart gratin dish with butter and dust with the Parmigiano; refrigerate. In a saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until thickened, 1 minute. Remove the béchamel from the heat, then whisk in 4 egg yolks along with the salt and pepper; reserve the remaining yolk for another use.
In a clean bowl, beat the whites until firm peaks form. Whisk one-third of the whites into the béchamel, then fold in the remaining beaten whites. Fold in the Gruyère and chives; scrape into the prepared dish. Arrange the American cheese strips on top in a crisscross pattern. Bake for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Serve.
Toasty, full-bodied Champagne: NV Aubry Brut.
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