Two of my favorite cooks are Ina Garten and Dorie Greenspan. Imagine taking their recipes for cauliflower gratin and combining them. You have an immediate winner. What I love about Dorie’s recipe is the bacon. Cauliflower is somewhat bland and adding crispy bacon gives it a smoky punch. What I love about Ina’s recipe is the Gruyere cheese sauce. Although Dorie’s recipe has Gruyere cheese in it, the sauce is an egg custard and I was looking for more of a white sauce with cheese.
This is definitely a company-worthy dish. It goes well with grilled meats and fish or simple roasts or chicken. We have had it for several meals now and it reheats well. I will be making another gratin next week when our friends are here for a visit. It is always nice to have a great casserole in your repertoire.
The only thing I will do differently next time is use fresh breadcrumbs instead of whole wheat dried breadcrumbs. The dried breadcrumbs were too dark and dense. I think the cauliflower florets would show better with the fresh breadcrumbs.
CAULIFLOWER GRATIN (Adapted from Ina Garten and Dorie Greenspan)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 to 4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, the nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere cheese and the Parmesan cheese.
Pour one third of the sauce on the bottom of an 8x11x2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and sprinkle the bacon pieces over it. Spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned.