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October 13, 2009

I have a compulsion that, on occasion, drives me to madness trying to replicate dishes I have loved. At times it isn’t pretty. Who knows the hours I have spent trying to decipher Pizzeria Bianco’s pizzas. Trust me, it can’t be done.

That said, I am recently fell down another recipe rabbit hole, but this time came up a winner. It was a much easier dish, but the stomach wants what the stomach wants.

This recipe is an adaption of an adaption, mostly because I didn’t have aged White Cheddar or Gruyere. I give credit to Ina Gartner for the original recipe. That said, I think this works just as well with Sharp Cheddar.

Cauliflower Gratin

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets

Kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups hot milk

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup freshly grated Sharp cheddar

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs (fresh bread crumbs will work too)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, ½ of the Cheddar, and the ½ cup of Parmesan.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Cheddar and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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