Make Ahead Egg Soufflé Casserole

    A  great brunch recipe from my sister, Marla Newell Payne. Not only is this egg dish really good,  there is no last minute assembly – make it the night before and it’s ready to bake in the morning. The layer of bread makes this hardier than most traditional soufflés and the chilies add a little kick.

Make Ahead Egg Soufflé Casserole    Serves 6 to 8
8 to 12 slices of French Bread  -- trim crusts
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained
8 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups whole milk

1. Trim crust from bread, brush both sides with butter and arrange in a 13x9x2” baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheese and chilies.
2. Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until stiff. 
3. In another bowl, beat egg yolks until lemon colored. 
4. Fold whites into yolks; add salt, pepper and milk.  Mix well.  Pour egg mixture into prepared casserole (spread well). 
5. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.  Bake at 300° for 60 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Tips for Egg Whites 
The following  information comes from -- with some modifications. 
q  Separate your eggs for whipping when they are still cold from the refrigerator because the yolks will not break as easily. 
q  Separate the egg whites into a grease-free bowl. Also make sure beaters and utensils are free of grease. To insure grease-free equipment -- wipe with lemon juice or white vinegar, rinse in warm water, and then dry. Don't use plastic containers because they tend to absorb and retain fat even if washed.
q  After separating, make sure you do not have one speck of egg yolk or fat in with the whites, as fat interferes with the whipping process. Use the broken egg shell to scoop out any trace of egg yolk or start again (saving the broken eggs for scrambled eggs, etc.)
q  Warm egg whites will produce the greatest volume because the egg’s protein is more elastic and will create the most tiny air bubbles at this temperature. Simply let the egg white stand at room temperature for no longer than 30 minutes before whipping. You get approximately 6 to 8 times in volume if the egg whites have been at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating. Egg whites will beat when cold but it will take longer and the mixture will be diminished in volume and texture. Note:  If it is humid or raining outside, sometimes you won't get the proper volume no matter what you do.
q  When whipping egg whites, always start your mixer on medium-low to medium speed. Beat whites until foamy and increase the speed to medium-high and then to high. This is a very important and underestimated step in the process. If the egg whites are beaten too quickly at the beginning, the structure of the foam will not be as strong, and later the egg whites will not beat as high as they should. If egg whites are overbeaten, they can separate or weep. Sometimes overbeaten whites can be rescued by adding an extra egg white and beating again. Stop when the egg white is just beaten. An extra one will not disturb your recipe proportions. But, it doesn't always work!

How Beaten Egg Whites Work: When you whip egg whites (albumen), you are really stretching the protein in them. As a result, they unwind and join together loosely, making them unstable. The liquid albumen forms elastic films around the air bubbles beaten into them and essentially trap them, which you can see as a foam. When the foam is heated, the trapped, tiny air cells expand from the heat of the oven and/or carbon dioxide released from baking soda or baking powder, if used, causing a batter to rise. During baking, the egg protein coagulates around them, giving permanence to the foam. Egg whites have a great ability to expand and give volume.

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