This is a Victorian version of Cauliflower gratin. Mrs. Beeton, the Original Domestic Goddess, used Parmesan cheese to flavor her cauliflower, but you can use any strongly flavored hard cheese you like. It quick and simple to make and even low carb friendly.
Mrs. Beeton's Cauliflower Parmesan
- 2 cups Béchamel sauce recipe below
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black pepper, freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp. English mustard powder
- Make the Béchamel Sauce or re-warm sauce you have already made.
- Preheat your oven to grill. Grease a large oven proof dish.
- Trim the pale inner leaves of the cauliflower into 2 inch length, sand the florets into small bite sized chunks. Fill a large pot with water and set to boil on high heat, add a large pinch of salt. Add the cut cauliflower pieces once the water has come to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or fork tender. Drain well. Arrange in the dish so that you have a shallow layer which
- Add the mustard and 2/3rds of the Parmesan cheese to the béchamel sauce and mix well until well combined as a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the cauliflower, ensure that all the cauliflower is covered. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and then place in the oven with top rack placed in the utmost position. Watching carefully, grill for 5 minutes until the top is well browned and bubbling.
- Serve hot.
Mrs. Beeton's Marvelous Béchamel Sauce
- 2 cups milk or 50/50 chicken stock and cream
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 1/2 small carrot peeled and diced
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp. unbleached white flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch nutmeg freshly grated
- Add the milk, onion, carrot, peppercorns, bay leaf and cloves to a medium saucepan and heat on medium. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat. Cover with a lid and leave for at least 30 minutes to infuse the flavors.
- Next make a roux. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and keep stirring for 5 minutes until the mixture starts to foam and gives up a nice toasty aroma. Don't let the flour burn. Take the roux off the stove.
- Reheat the milk mixture and strain through a fine sieve, discarding the vegetables.
- Place the roux back onto a gentle heat and whisk a little of the hot milk into it, whisking until fully incorporated. Continuing slowly adding the milk, whisking all the time until all the milk has been used. Cook for another 5 minutes until the sauce is glossy, silky and free of lumps. Season with salt and nutmeg to taste.
- You can store this sauce in the fridge for up to 4 days; simply cover the surface with cling film.