Cauliflower au Gratin

Cauliflower au Gratin (aka Cauliflower Cheese) is always popular on a winter table. With cauliflower in season (and now affordable), it would be a shame not to make this at least once or twice while the weather is chilly. My version uses Gruyère cheese to make it extra special, but a mature cheddar would also be a good choice. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try a smoked cheddar or even a flavoured cheese! Serve this as a side to any roast or winter dish like Braised Lamb Shanks or Osso Buco. You can vary the recipe by substituting some of all of the cauliflower with blanched broccoli or fennel (also both in season).

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 cauliflower
½ cup breadcrumbs (preferably fresh but panko works well)
½ cup grated Gruyère or mature cheddar cheese

Cheese sauce
40g butter
40g flour
500ml milk, warmed
150g grated Gruyère or mature cheddar cheese
White pepper
Nutmeg – preferably freshly grated

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
2. Cut the thick stalk off the cauliflower and cut the cauliflower into medium, even-sized florets.
3. Cook cauliflower florets in the boiling water for about 7 minutes or until just tender. Drain and arrange in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish.
4. For the cheese sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes or until you have a smooth golden paste, stirring constantly. Gradually add the warm milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Stir until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese, a little salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Stir until the cheese melts.
5. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the cauliflower. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and extra cheese over the top.
6. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling at the edges.

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