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Wine of the Week: Lush chardonnay complements a soufflé

Our Wine of the Week, Williams Selyem 2016 Lewis MacGregor Estate Chardonnay ($65) is a chardonnay lover’s chardonnay, in a big yet subtle and suave way.

It has the brilliant acid, like a star-studded night sky, that most dazzles the palate and causes just a bit of confusion as it resolves into the classic lushness of this varietal in California. This much acid in a chardonnay? Really? Yes, indeed.

With each sip, the compelling acidity gives way to rich buttery textures and flavors that suggest everything from baked apple, ripe Bartlett to butterscotch custard, creme brulée and English toffee. Threads of minerality keep the wine from becoming cloying and lift it up from a good chardonnay to a great, classic quaffer, worthy of its price.

At the table, enjoy this wine with any type of shellfish, but especially scallops. You’ll enjoy it, as well, with the last of fall’s corn and all types of winter squash, provided it is served in a savory context.

A wine this regal, this extraordinary warrants something equally special, especially if you will serve it at this month’s holiday. This soufflé mirrors both the complexity of the wine and its plush texture.

A soufflé is not difficult to make, but it can seem daunting if you have never done it before, so be sure to read the recipe all the way through and have everything ready before you begin. The trick is to time things so that everything is already on the table when you pull the soufflé from the oven.

Savory Sweet Potato Soufflé

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds (about 3 medium) sweet potatoes

3/4 cup cream or half-and-half

3 garlic cloves, trimmed, peeled and crushed

10-12 fresh sage leaves

- White pepper in a mill

2 tablespoons butter

1 large shallot, minced

- Kosher salt

2 tablespoons flour

3 farm eggs, separated

1 cup (4 ounces) Estero Gold or Vella Dry Jack cheese, grated

- Several fresh sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Puncture each sweet potato with a sharp knife in 3 or 4 places, set them on a rack set on a baking sheet, set in the oven and cook until very tender when pierced with a fork, about one hour. Remove from the oven and let cool until easy to handle.

Meanwhile. pour the cream into a small saucepan, add the garlic, 3 of the sage leaves and several turns of white pepper and set over medium heat. When the cream just begins to simmer, cover and remove from the heat. Let sit until the sweet potatoes are ready.

Use about 2 teaspoons of the butter to coat the inside of a 1 to 1 ½ quart soufflé dish and set it aside.

Melt the remaining butter in a small sauté pan set over medium heat and when the butter is melted, add the shallot and sauté gently until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Season the shallot with salt, sprinkle the flour over is and stir to combine.

With the heat on low, set a strainer over the saucepan and pour the cream through it. Quickly stir with a whisk and continue to stir until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside. Discard the garlic and sage leaves.

When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, break them in half and pass them through a potato ricer into a deep bowl. If you do not have a ricer, press them through a strainer. Discard the skins (or save them for your pups; they are a healthy treat).

Use a sturdy balloon whisk or a hand mixer to whip the egg whites until they form medium peaks. Set them aside.

Working quickly, put the egg yolks into a medium bowl and whisk thoroughly, until creamy and pale yellow. Whisk in the cream mixture, followed by the sweet potato puree and the cheese. Mix well.

Working quickly, fold in the egg whites but do not overmix. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixture into the buttered soufflé dish. Arrange the remaining sage leaves on top and sprinkle lightly with salt and several turns of white pepper.

Set the soufflé on the same rack used for the sweet potatoes and carefully set the sheet pan with the rack and dish in the oven. Pour about ¼ to ½ inch of hot water into the sheet pan.

Bake until the soufflé is lightly browned on top and springs back when pressed gently with your finger, about 40 to 45 minutes. Add more water to the pan as needed to keep it from becoming dry.

Remove from the oven and enjoy right away.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Oil & Vinegar.” Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com

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