Pin It This is the time of the year when we Floridians try to keep our freezers as empty as possible because of hurricane season. If a storm hits our area, the chances of being without electricity for a week or two are pretty high, meaning most of what you have in your refrigerator will have to be thrown out. This means more trips to the grocery store and smaller purchases of things that need to be frozen.
We have been eating the remains of our freezer now for the last two weeks and today, to my horror, I found that there were only two anemic looking little pork chops left in the back and one beautiful head of cauliflower in the fridge. The pork was easy, marinated with garlic, onion lemon juice and Worcestershire Sauce and into the frying pan. But was it going to be enough for two hungry adults? Not a chance. So i decided to be a little bit more elaborate with the cauliflower and make one of my favorites, Gratin de Chou-Fleur.
The recipe below is for a full head of cauliflower which will serve 6-8 people easily as a side dish. I halved the recipe and had more than enough for the two of us as a hearty side dish, with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow.
I hesitated posting another cauliflower dish so soon, but seeing that the cauliflower puree was such a hit, perhaps this will be a sensation too!
Serves 6 - 8
One large head cauliflower, trimmed and separated into florets
Freshly grated nutmeg
(2/3 cup) freshly grated Gruyere
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 Cups of milk
Fine salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
Extra grated gruyere for top
Extra butter for the top
Sprinkle the cauliflower with coarse salt and steam for 15 - 20 minutes, until soft The cauliflower can be cooked up to a day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.
Set an oven rack in the upper half of the oven and preheat to (350°F). Transfer the cauliflower to a medium gratin dish.
Prepare the béchamel. Have the butter, flour, and milk measured and ready. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the flour all at once and stir it into the butter with a wooden spoon or preferably, a wire whisk.(this is called a roux blanc). Cook for 3 minutes without coloring, stirring continually until the mixture turns creamy. Pour in the milk and whisk it into the roux blanc, making sure you don't leave any clumps on the bottom and sides of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, stirring with the wooden spoon or the whisk as the mixture thickens. Add the 1/2 Cup of the grated cheese.Set aside to cool for a few minutes
Season the béchamel with salt, pepper, and a whisper of nutmeg. Pour evenly over the cauliflower, top with the remaining cheese, adding more if necessary to cover the top generously, sprinkle with bread crumbs. top with a little butter and slip into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, until heated through and well gratinéed at the top; you can switch to the broiler setting for the 5 final minutes.
Let rest for five minutes and serve -- you may want to warn your dining companions that the gratin will be very hot.
Any leftovers can be reheated for 10 minutes at (350°F) the next day.