This is a magic soufflé: You bake it once, set it aside and, when you're ready for dinner, pour cream over it and - presto! - it rises in the oven once again. It's the best make-ahead vegetable dish I know.
- 1 buttercup or Hubbard squash, about 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms)
- 4 ounces (125 grams) pancetta
- 20 sage leaves
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 cups warm milk
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1½ cups whipping cream
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place squash pieces, cut side down, on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until tender. Let cool and scoop out flesh.
Place pancetta in a skillet over medium heat and fry until crisp. Drain and chop. Raise heat and add sage leaves to pan and fry until crisp about 30 seconds. Reserve.
Heat butter in a pot over medium heat to make sauce. When the butter sizzles, stir in flour until incorporated. Slowly add milk and bring to boil, stirring. Season with salt and pepper and cool.
Place squash and white sauce in a food processor and purée until slightly chunky. Add in egg yolks and stir in pancetta and sage. Transfer to bowl.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks with a pinch of salt and stir one third into squash mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites with a large spoon.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Oil 8 4-inch wide ramekins and divide squash mixture between them.
Place ramekins in a roasting pan and fill roasting pan halfway up with boiling water. Place pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until soufflés have risen.
Remove ramekins from water bath and let cool slightly. Loosen sides of soufflé with a knife and turn out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until needed (they may flop, but ignore it).
Before serving, preheat oven to 400 F. Return soufflés on baking sheet to room temperature. Drizzle 3 tablespoons cream over each soufflé and rebake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed up. Serves 8.