My family likes my cauliflower au gratin. I try to switch things up by using a different cheeses. This time it is baby Swiss cheese rather than emmentaler.
I wanted to add bacon to the cheese sauce, but Jan does not like bacon, or any mixing of meat and cheese for that matter. I decided to serve the bacon on the side, so diners may choose to garnish their vegetables with it or not, as pleases them.
Like many Americans, I had thought that “au gratin” simply meant smothered in cheese sauce. I was reading the other day and discovered that it actually means roasted vegetables smothered in cheese sauce. This means that every time I have parboiled or steamed my vegetables and call it an “au gratin” I have been not accurate.
Note: Live and learn or die in ignorance.
Karl’s Cauliflower Swiss Au Gratin with Crispy Bacon
Karl’s Baby Swiss au Gratin Sauce
2 Tbs. butter (or olive oil)
2 Tbs. flour
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 cup milk
1 tsp. spicy honey mustard
½ lb. baby Swiss cheese, grated, separate uses
Pinch nutmeg, fresh grated, separate uses
Pinch black pepper
Pinch Kosher salt
6-8 sliced bacon, fried crisp and broken into bits
1. Remove the leaves and toughest part of the stem from the cauliflower. Break the head into small florets.
2. Spread the florets on a lipped baking sheet in a singles layer and roast for 30 minutes in a 350° F oven, until not quite tender.
Tip: If you are preparing several dishes and are pressed for time, you may transfer the cauliflower to a casserole and let it sit, cooled, for an hour before going on to the nest step.
3. Just before the cauliflower comes out of the oven, add the butter and flour to a small pot and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned.
Tip: Cooking butter and flour this way is called a roux and is the base of many French sauces.
8. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more.
9. Add the milk, a bit at a time, and continue stirring until the sauce has started to thicken.
10. Stir in the mustard.
11. Reserve ½ cup of the cheese and add the rest, a bit at a time, stirring constantly.
12. When the cheese is almost completely melted, add the nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Continue stirring to mix.
13. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and arainge it in a casserole.
14. Pour the sauce evenly over the cauliflower.
15. Move the oven rack to the middle of the oven.
16. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top and return the pan to the oven.
17. Continue broiling at 500º F until the cheese is starting to brown well (about another 10 minutes).
18. Garnish with a few gratings of fresh nutmeg and serve with bacon on the side.
Note: If you do not have picky eaters garnish with the crispy bacon.