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Melted cheese on cauliflower in a dish with a fork and spoon
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5 from 3 votes

Cauliflower Cheese

Bubbling hot, cheesy goodness made with cauliflower.  The most decadent English Bar food you'll ever find.  Enjoy!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cauliflower cheese, cheesy cauliflower
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 330kcal
Author: Loaves and Dishes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head approx. 2lbs cauliflower
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 4 tbs all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp whole grain wet mustard
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 Cups grated cheese very Sharp - something like Cabots
  • 1/4 Cup Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Remove cauliflower florets from the stalk and discard stalk. Cut florets into 1-2 inch pieces. Steam the cauliflower for 5- 10 minutes until firm but tender. ( or boil) You may also roast the cauliflower in the oven - a delicious twist!
  • Spread out 2-3 layers of paper towel onto a baking sheet and then spread the florets out onto a paper towel to dry while making the cheese sauce.
  • In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat, add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for about 1-2 minutes so that any flour taste will be removed.
  • Add the smoked paprika, black pepper and wet mustard, black pepper and stir to combine.
  • Pour the milk in a steady stream into the cheese sauce, whisking the whole time so that the mixture stays creamy and does not clump.
  • When mixture thickens, add the cheese one handful at a time. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt/pepper as needed.
  • Spread the dried cauliflower florets into a 2 quart baking dish (or iron skillet), spoon the sauce over the top and sprinkle the fresh Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake until browned and bubbly – about 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.

Video

Notes

  • It is important to cook the cauliflower enough ahead of time so that most of the water is removed.  I find this works best if you roast it in the oven or boil it.  The roasting process gives the cauliflower a LOT of flavor and zaps that water right out of there. 
  • Conversely, you can steam the cauliflower, which also works but lends itself to retaining more of the water.
  • Regardless of how you decide to precook the cauliflower, it is absolutely necessary to drain the cauliflower on towels before moving forward.  I always give the cauliflower a little press/squeeze to remove as much water as possible. 
  • You won't want to use the stalks of the cauliflower in this recipe, they just never taste as good that way.
  • When make the roux (the butter and flour together) for the cheese sauce, allow the flour to cook for a few minutes.  This gets the dusty flour taste out of the roux. 
  • It is imperative to choose a good quality mustard and a good quality sharp cheese.  This recipe has few ingredients and you really have to depend heavily upon the flavorful ingredients to carry their weight. 
  • A browned crusty top is THE BEST. If you prefer a more plain top, then cover with aluminum foil for baking. 
PRO TIP:  The flavors of the cheese and the mustard MAKE this recipe so choose the absolute best you can afford. You are looking for a deep sharp taste in both.  Don't make the mistake of going mild for this dish.  Go for the GUSTO!

Nutrition

Calories: 330kcal