I could pretty much put a cheesy vegetable gratin on any holiday table and call it a party. Remember this Creamy Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Gratin from Thanksgiving? Since that one went over so incredibly well, I thought I’d try making another with a vegetable that I actually DO like. Cauliflower.
Cauliflower gratin is nothing new (nearly everyone in the UK knows this as Cauliflower Cheese, considered “nursery food,” but I consider it brilliant). But that doesn’t discount the fact that this is comfort food at its finest, and it deserves your attention this winter.
It is remarkably easy to make, and the nice thing is is that you can blanch the veggies ahead, make the sauce ahead, and then about 45 minutes before you are ready to serve, warm the sauce and throw it all together and bake it to perfection. Just be careful not to overcook the cauliflower when you blanch it or the result will be a bit too tender (at least for me, to each his own).
I like versatility in my recipes, so here I offer you some ideas to change this up:
- Use broccoli instead of cauliflower and cheddar instead of Gruyere.
- Add chopped cooked bacon! (duh)
- Cook 1 large sliced yellow onion in butter until caramelized and use it in place of the shallots.
Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower and Gruyere Gratin
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 large shallots, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- 3/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Bring a large saucepan half filled with salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Blanch the cauliflower until barely tender and still somewhat firm, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
- In the saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter. Add the shallots. Fry until tender, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tbsp butter and stir until melted. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook, stirring with a whisk, until smooth. Slowly add the chicken broth, then the milk, while whisking, until thickened and smooth. Add the Gruyere and 1/2 cup Parmesan and stir until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower to the sauce and stir to combine.
- Grease a 2-qt gratin dish or baking dish. Spread the cauliflower mixture into an even later in the dish. In a bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Sprinkle over the top.
- Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes. (If you like, pop it under the broiler to brown the top a bit more.) Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.