Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cauliflower Gratin with Cheddar Béchamel Sauce

Luscious, creamy, cheesy and delicious, there's nothing like a whole cauliflower, smothered and baked in a béchamel sauce, enriched with good cheese and a spoonful of english mustard. It's classic comfort food, and as midweek suppers go, Cauliflower Cheese is a thrifty and nutritious triumph. A good cheese sauce is unquestionably the most important element of any cauliflower cheese, but when combined with a reliable creamy béchamel, which is actually a mornay sauce or velouté with cheese, this dish goes from satisfying to sensational, and a dish that cab be served as a side dish with a Sunday roast, or a sinfully decadent treat all on its own with a big spoon to scoop up every last bit of lovely cheesy sauce.

Cheddar bechamel sauce

Steamed cauliflower set heads-up in an oven proof baking dish

The cheddar cheese béchamel is poured over the cauliflower and baked at 375°F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown

Cauliflower Gratin with Cheddar Béchamel Sauce
Serves 2-4

1/2 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup partly skimmed or whole milk, as required
1 tsp English mustard
2 cups grated mature cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Break the cauliflower into large florets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water for 10-15 minutes until fork tender, then remove from the heated set aside. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan then stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk as required, a little at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon between each addition. Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer the roux for two minutes until thick, then remove the from the heat. Stir in the mustard and grated cheese until melted and set aside. Arrange the cauliflower florets heads-up in and ovenproof baking dish. Carefully pour over the béchamel cheese sauce ensuring the cauliflower is completely covered. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and bubbling.