Cauliflower Cheese Gratin

Cauliflower Cheese Gratin
Cauliflower Cheese Gratin
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Cauliflower Cheese Gratin

    

August 1, 2016Cauliflower Gratin may sound boring, but it tastes so good. Comfort food at its best. Just try it and you will never go back.

  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • 20 mins

    40 mins

    1 hr

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Yields: Serves 6

There is a special place in my heart for cauliflower cheese. It is a comfort food that is at its best in the colder months where it maximises its potential to ward off the wintery chill. I can even remember as a child having it served as a whole head - like a giant mushy brain doused in white sauce that wouldn't have been out of place in a horror movie. I won't blame my parents for that interpretation, but whoever made it certainly left their mark.

This version makes a lot of sense. It is based on one by the British chef Mark Hix, who is a master or making simple things taste good. You use the entire cauliflower, leaves and all, and then reduce the liquid it is cooked in to make an intensely flavourful sauce. After tasting it, you will likely wonder why you ever threw the leaves away. I certainly did.

Ingredients

1 cauliflower, Medium

500ml milk

500ml water

1 bay leaf

40g butter

20g olive oil

60g flour

1 cup cheese, grated

4 tbsp breadcrumbs

2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

Directions

Heat the oven to 220C

Bring milk, water and bay leaf to the boil in a large pot.

Chop cauliflower into florets, then chop the core into similar sized chunks. Roughly chop the leaves also and reserve.

Cauliflower Gratin Direction 1

Add the chopped cauliflower to the boiling milk and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the leaves and simmer for 2 minutes more. Strain cauliflower using a sieve or colander reserving all of the liquid. It is important that the cauliflower is still quite form as it will be spending a little time in the oven and needs to hold its shape.

In a medium pot, add the oil and butter and heat until melted over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir with a whisk for a minute to form a blonde roux.

Add the reserved cooking liquid a few tablespoons at a time to the roux while whisking. You can add more and more of the liquid as you go, but the whisking should avoid most of the lumps.

Bring to a simmer and allow to thicken to the consistency of cream. Remove from the heat and stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary.

Mix half of the sauce with the drained cauliflower in a large oven dish. Pour over the remainder of the sauce and top with the rest of the cheese, breadcrumbs and half of the parsley.

Cauliflower Gratin Direction 2

Bake in the oven at 220C for 25-30 minutes until golden and crusty. If necessary place it under the grill for a couple of minutes to finish it off.

Scatter the remaining parsley on top with a little cracked pepper and it is ready to serve.

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About the author

Ben Macdonald

When Ben isn’t devouring food, he is thinking what to cook next. After spending his adult life eating his way around the world he ended up channelling his culinary creativity as a finalist in Masterchef Australia – famously impressing Heston Blumenthal with a campfire from steak and potatoes - before being eliminated the very next episode.
Following some time in several top restaurants he is now focussed on sharing his love of home cooking and making each meal better than the last.