Cauliflower gratin

  • Preparation Time15 mins
  • Cooking Time60 mins
  • Serves6
  • DifficultyEasy
590ml milk
1/4 small onion, studded with 1 clove
1 small bay leaf
1 small sprig fresh thyme
75g unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 tbsp. plain flour
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 4-cm florets (about 1kg)
1 tsp salt, plus more as needed
85g finely grated Gruyere cheese
1 tsp Cognac or brandy
Pinch of cayenne
4 gratings of fresh nutmeg
70g fresh bread crumbs
1 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1) Preheat oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Butter a 1.4 litre gratin dish and set it aside.

2) Make the sauce. In medium saucepan, heat the milk with the onion, bay leaf, and thyme to just below the boiling point. Set aside. In another medium pan, melt 30g of the butter over medium heat, and then sift in the flour. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, until it lightens in colour, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

3) Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

4) While the sauce simmers, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and add the cauliflower. Cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Arrange the cauliflower, florets-side up, in the buttered gratin dish.

5) Strain the sauce and season it with a teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne to taste. Whisk in the cheese, 15g of the butter, and the Cognac until smooth, taking care not to over mix. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower.

6) Melt the remaining 30g butter in a small saucepan. In a medium bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the butter to coat evenly. Sprinkle the top of the cauliflower with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until the top of the cauliflower gratin is golden brown and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

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