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Cauliflower cheese is one of Britain’s favorite side dishes.
A Very British Side Dish
While the rage over cauliflower has to do with the trend to eat less carbs, this veggie has always been popular across the pond.
Vegetables with a creamy cheese sauce is nothing new. This cauliflower cheese isn’t either since it’s a staple at British tables. You can get very fancy with it or serve it as is.
I really don’t like to get too fancy with these old recipes, but I do like to think outside the box. Especially when doing a couple of things differently enhances a recipe that’s already great.
As always, fresh is best. However here it’s probably necessary because I roast the cauliflower and I couldn’t imagine doing that with frozen that’s thawed. It’s too watery.
Just separate the fresh head of cauliflower into florets–the size is up to you but I’d avoid large and very small so you can keep the cooking time pretty even.
This step can be done more efficiently by roasting the cauliflower in your air fryer if you have one, but if you don’t, your oven is just as good. Times can vary with how deeply colored you want the cauliflower so you’ll have to keep an eye on it. For my taste, the deeper the color, the more flavor you’ll have in the casserole.
Now For The Cheese
To stay traditional, your best choice would be a high-quality cheddar. I do shy away from the extra-extra sharp varieties from personal taste. But a good sharp one will be good here and it doesn’t matter if it’s yellow or white. However the yellow ones do add a pop of color, but it makes no difference to the taste. And the big surprise is I prefer the regular yellow sharp Cracker Barrel one and that’s available everywhere.
- 1 head fresh cauliflower about 1 1/2 lbs/600 g
- 2 tbs oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 tbs flour
- 10 oz hot milk
- Pinch cayenne pepper optional
- Pinch nutmeg optional
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 10 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided
- Preheat oven to 425 F/220 C.
- Separate cauliflower into individual florets of medium size and place in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over the cauliflower and toss to coat.
- Spread the cauliflower evenly on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower is golden. The time is approximate depending on how roasted you want it.
- Place the cauliflower in a 2 qt/2 L baking dish and set aside.
- Turn the oven temperature down to 400 F/200 C
- To make the sauce: melt the butter in a medium saucepan and when it sizzles, whisk in the flour, cayenne (if using), nutmeg (if using), the mustard and salt. Whisk well so there are no lumps. Let this bubble for about a minute to cook the flour.
- Slowly whisk in the hot milk and stir constantly until the mixture bubbles, then continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from the heat then stir in all but 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until topping is crisp and golden.