I have placed this show stopping side dish in my basics section as really, everyone should know how to make a great Cauliflower Au Gratin. It is a staple with roasts and on special occasions in our house and this recipe is exactly the same as if you broke up the little florets of the cauliflower. The major difference with this one is that it looks so darn good when you place it in the centre of the table and it is so nice for everyone to cut a big chunk off……..the ultimate share plate!
Unfortunately for this recipe I only have a before it went in the oven photo. The reason for this is that everyone hoed in before I could get a photo after it was cooked. Yep, it is that good!
Prep time: 25 Minutes Cooking time: 1 Hour $ Low Budget
1 whole medium sized cauliflower, with the leaves still on for presentation purposes and to help hold in all that cheese sauce
50gm of unsalted butter
1 tbs of plain flour
1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
11/2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of cream
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
A pinch of nutmeg
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
A sprinkle of paprika for garnish
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Place the cauliflower in a large steamer (you could use a bamboo one over a wok) with about 2cm of water in the bottom. Bring to a simmer and place a lid on and steam the cauliflower for approximately 20 minutes or until just tender.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir for a minute or so before adding the milk and whisking, bit by bit until the sauce starts to thicken and you have no lumps. Add the cream and half of the parmesan and stir to combine, constantly, to prevent the sauce sticking on the bottom of the pan. Allow to come up to a very low simmer before removing from the heat and stirring in half of the chives.
Remove the cauliflower from the steamer (I used a couple of tea towels as it was a bit awkward) and place it in a baking dish. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower, holding back the leaves a little so that the sauce runs down the inside. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and chives and dust with a light sprinkling of paprika.
Place it in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve in the centre of the table with a large knife and serving spoon.