I love cauliflower, from gratins and purees to soups and curries, passing by tempura and souffles… 😉 The only way I dislike it is raw in “crudites”, which, to my mind, are an abuse of culinary practice. I will not serve crudites and its partner, “the dipping sauce” for my guests. Back to the point, I love cauliflower. But, in truth, my husband does not share my appreciation for it.
“I take it we are having cauliflower….” is his usual remark when he spots it on the counter. The tone of disappointment and resignation permeates the kitchen. His mind is probably racing through philosophical thoughts on the ups and downs of marriage, certain that a deep “down” is approaching, set to arrive at dinnertime.
But my response is: “Oh, don’t worry, I think you’ll really like it”. And for those of you on his team, I say the same. Give this recipe a try. It’s luscious, creamy, not too heavy, and surprisingly simple to make.
The recipe is from chef Thomas Keller, of restaurant Bouchon , a place I’m dying to visit. It’s on a page of a book that I mentioned before: Secrets of Success.
CAULIFLOWER AU GRATIN
(from Thomas Keller, per Michael Bauer’s Secrets of Success)
(receita em portugues na segunda pagina)
1 large head of cauliflower. florets separated, stems diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 + 1/2 T olive oil
1 T minced shallots
1 T minced garlic
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream (see my comments)
1/2 T prepared horseradish
ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
To prepare the florets:
Fill a bowl with water, add the lemon juice, and place the cauliflower florets inside, allowing it to sit for 2 minutes. Drain. Transfer them to a pan with salted boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes, until just starting to get tender. Drain, place in an oven-proof serving dish. Alternatively, you can steam the florets, which works very well.
To prepare the creamy base:
Heat the oil in a sautee pan, add the diced cauliflower stems, the shallots, and the diced garlic, and cook for a few minutes, until tender. Add the water and cook, uncovered, for 5 more minutes, until reduced by half. Remove from heat and add the cream. Transfer to a blender, add the horseradish, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Pour the cream over the florets and stir. Top with the grated cheese and bake in a 425F oven until golden brown and bubbly, around 25 minutes.
To print the recipe, click here
Comments: The recipe calls for 1 cup of heavy cream, which makes me a little nervous. I’ve made it in the original way, but also substituted half heavy cream/ half milk. Even though I didn’t taste them side by side, (shame on me, what kind of a scientist am I?) the version with less cream tastes rich enough for us. Feel free to experiment.
I love the fact that the cauliflower stems are a major part of the “creamy” component. I’ve made other recipes with similar approaches, for instance the “Duet of Cauliflower” published in Food and Wine years ago, but I ultimately prefer Keller’s take on it.
This basic dish may be tweaked to suit your taste (or other dishes that you are serving with it); cauliflower goes well with many spices, nutmet, paprika, curry, dill. You can add pancetta or bacon to the creamy component if you like. Other cheeses may be used alone or combined, including gorgonzola and other blue cheeses, that match cauliflower quite well.
Leftovers are great, and easily survive a couple minutes of microwave torture, if you desire to go that route.
P.S. He loved this dish, conundrum solved! 😉
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