Sunday: Cauliflower Gratin

Here’s my inspiration (as usual, found at Epicurious), as well as my personal editing (I’m taking out these parts of the published recipe, and adding in these parts), based on what I actually have on hand:

Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin with Horseradish Bread Crumbs Topping

Gourmet  | January 2006

yield: Makes 8 servings
active time: 45 min
total time: 55 min

Ingredients:

  • 3 1 lb cauliflower (1/2 large head), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch florets
  • 1 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 6 1 1/2 oz sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 1/4 cup finely chopped scallion greens shallots
  • 1/2 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 20 (2-inch) square saltine crackers leftover baguette from Kobucha “fondue”
  • 2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
  • Preparation:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
    2. Cook cauliflower in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain cauliflower well in a colander and transfer to baking dish.
    3. While cauliflower cooks, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, scallion greens, salt, and pepper, whisking until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower and stir gently to combine.
    4. Coarsely crumble crackers into a bowl. Rip bread into pieces approximately 1 1/2″ each and pulse briefly in food processor to make crumbs.  Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in horseradish. Pour over crumbs and toss to coat. pour into food processor & pulse until just mixed.
    5. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cauliflower.
    6. Bake gratin until topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

    The Verdict:

    Creamy, tasty cauliflower.  Since we only had about 1/3 of what the recipe called for, this wasn’t really enough for a main course.  It was easy enough to make that I think we could make it again as a side dish, and I thought it was quite a bit tastier than steamed or fried cauliflower (probably all that cheese & dairy goodness).  I thought that my proportions ended up a little off – I would have liked a bit higher sauce-to-cauliflower ratio and I should have used only part of the breadcrumbs that I made (forgot to 1/3 that part of the recipe).  Every bite ended up coated in bread crumbs, which was a little weird, but those are my favorite part of any baked recipe, so I didn’t mind.  Travis said he liked it, so it must have been pretty good!

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