This is a take on humble cauliflower cheese which I think still gets a bad press. The addition of dijon mustard and the substitution of gruyere elevate it to more than a side dish.I
have been delighted with our cauliflowers this year. They are fluffy white snowballs with not a blemish on them.
I grew the variety All Year round. I sowed the seed last August and over wintered the seedlings in the cold frame. They were transplanted into the cabbage cage in March when it was still cold and wet but they have come on famously. The autumn sowing really works for me because they’re ready to eat before the cabbage white butterflies are laying their eggs and it leaves the ground free for another crop.
The trick with cauliflower cheese is not to overcook the cauli otherwise it takes on a bland mushy texture. The gruyere is slightly sweet and nutty which works well with the dijon and salty bacon.
Make sure you use posh bacon – the dry cured thin strips of streaky bacon. That flabby watery stuff will just curl up and go grey…
- 1 large cauliflower, broken into large florets
- 40g butter
- 40g flour
- 400ml milk
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 100g gruyere cheese, grated (keep a little to scatter on top)
- 6 rashers thin streaky bacon
Heat oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Blanche the cauliflower for 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain.
Melt the butter in a small pan and add the flour. Remove from the heat and add a little of the milk to form a paste. Continue to add the milk, whisking to make sure no lumps form. Return to the heat and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Add the mustard and grated cheese and stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Put the cauliflower in a shallow dish and pour over the sauce. Sprinkle the remains of the cheese on top and lay the bacon in strips. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the cheese golden brown and bubbling.