The other day I went into my blog to categorize all my past postings only to discover that they were weighted rather heavily towards desserts and were embarrassingly light on the veg side, despite the fact that I don’t eat puddings very often (really, I don’t). So here’s a recipe to balance things out a bit; something Mum used to make that falls into my personal comfort food category.
Cauliflower au Gratin stands alone as a lovely vegetarian dish and makes a perfect side for roast beef, pork or lamb. You can make it with your favorite cheese – whether that’s of the blue, goat or American processed variety but you won’t ever catch me using the latter.
I always make it with a combination of aged Gruyere and a good Parmigiano Reggiano. Gruyere melts really well and had a wonderfully rich, unctuous quality.
I take a shortcut through the sauce bit in a way that would probably make purists shudder but I don’t particularly care as I’m looking for a great result that takes less time.
CAULIFLOWER au GRATIN
(Serves 4 as a side dish)
1 medium sized head of cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and cut into equal sized florets
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of plain/all-purpose flour
1 cup or 8 fl oz (228ml) of milk
6 oz (170g) of shredded gruyere
A pinch of nutmeg
One bay leaf
Half of a small peeled onion
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
One or two ounces (28-56gm) of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs
Cut the cauliflower into small florets and steam them until just tender. Put them in a buttered gratin dish or divide between 4 individual gratin dishes and set aside.
To prepare the sauce; put everything else minus the cheese, into a heavy saucepan then bring it to a low simmer, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk. Once everything is smooth and bubbling slightly, allow it to cook like this for two minutes. The advantage of making the sauce this way is that you can add more flour or milk if you prefer a thinner or thicker sauce, as long as you keep whisking.
Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf and onion. Immediately add the shredded Gruyere, stirring well until the cheese has melted. Check the seasoning.
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower then sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
Either brown under a hot grill or bake for 25 minutes at 350°F (180°C), until golden.