We had a snowstorm here in Richmond this weekend, and that calls for comfort food, right? I’d promised some friends that I’d get around to posting my recipe for smoked Gouda cauliflower gratin so this snow storm felt like just the right time for this creamy goodness. Here’s the thing about this recipe: I doesn’t have to be cauliflower. For quite some time I made this as a Brussels sprout gratin. I’ve made it with broccoli and carrots. I’ve made it with potatoes (thinned out a bit). Basically, this is a recipe for an amazing smoked Gouda Bechamel that can be used anytime you want a smoky, creamy, cheesy bite of deliciousness (a spoonful of this sauce on top of mashed potatoes is DIVINE). Hell, this is how some of my best macaroni and cheese recipes start out (throw in some caramelized onions, trust me).
In addition to its versatility as a sauce it’s really easy to choose your level of indulgence. I often make it with skim milk, but I’ve also made it with heavy cream. Basically, I make this with whatever fat-level of dairy I have around the house. As long as you have two cups of milk, half and half, or cream, you’re good! Often, I don’t have two cups of one type of dairy product so I’ll combine skim milk with half and half to make 2 cups. Don’t worry; you can’t mess this up!
I do want to put in another plug for my favorite whisk. It’s life-changing. I’m not kidding. You’ll thank me.
Smoked Gouda Cauliflower Gratin
- 2 heads of cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour (rice flour or cornstarch if you’re gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons of whole milk (or whatever combination of dairy you want to get to two cups)
- 8 ounces smoked Gouda, grated
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Trim and chop up your cauliflower. Put it all in a microwave-safe/oven-safe 8×8″ dish (or is it 9×9″?) and cook on high for 8 minutes. You could certainly cook this on the stove, but I find that this is easy plus then the cauliflower isn’t so wet. Wet cauliflower makes this soggy! Don’t microwave your cauliflower until you’re ready to use it. Otherwise it gets rubbery.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour or cornstarch and whisk until the roux begins to turn golden and foamy. Slowly whisk in your milk and heat on medium-low until the sauce thickens.
Reserve a large handful of the Gouda and then stir in the rest.
Pour the sauce over the cooked cauliflower. I use a spoon or spatula to gently coax the sauce down to the bottom. It doesn’t need to be perfect, as the sauce will definitely end up covering every inch of the cauliflower while it cooks.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the cauliflower. Bake uncovered about thirty minutes, until the cheese turns golden-brown.