Cauliflower Gratin

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From the Essential Pépin tv series, Episode 104: Veg-In!

Made with a béchamel sauce and finished with cheese, this cauliflower dish is one I remember well from my childhood. —Jacques Pépin

Serves 6

1 firm white cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Gruyère or Emmenthaler cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower, cut out the core, and separate cauliflower into florets. Drop the florets into a large stainless steel saucepan of boiling salted water, bring back to a boil, and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook over low heat for about 1 minute, stirring with a whisk; do not let the mixture brown. Add the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, then simmer over low heat for 1 minute. Add the cream, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Generously butter a gratin dish. Put the florets in the dish stem side down and coat with the white béchamel. Sprinkle with the cheeses. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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