cauliflower gratin

Cauliflower Gratin

This cauliflower gratin makes a decadently delicious side for Thanksgiving.

Cauliflower was introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century and, though rare in French cooking, held an honorable place in French gardens because of their delicate beauty. They were written about by the gardener and scientist Olivier de Serres in his 1600 book Théàter de l’agriculture (Theater of Agriculture) and are featured in La Varenne’s 1653 cookbook Le cuisinier francois (The French Cook). Prepared in a shallow dish and broiled to form a mouthwatering golden crust, gratins originated in French cuisine and include vegetables, breadcrumbs and grated cheese. 

1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese, divided
¼ cup plain breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.

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 milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1 cup of the grated cheese.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 x11-inch baking dish. Place the cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned and serve hot.

Serves 6

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