Tis the season of spooky things, of giving thanks and gifts from the heart. For some reason the fall season beckons me to my kitchen and it always has. This time of year is when I most enjoy cooking or baking and also the time of year when I reflect upon years gone by. The memories of my youth seem to flood over me and bathe me in affection for the wonderful times shared with family during the holiday season. What always seems to stick out are memories that were made and shared around a dinner table.
I am not looking to re-live those days, but to keep the memories alive today with the recipes I create here at Cooking On A Budget. In thinking what would go beautifully with a holiday ham I decided to resurrect an older recipe giving it a complete make over which would include a way in which this casserole would not end up with pools of water from the cauliflower. Since I discovered the secret for an amazing and non-watery gratin using potatoes, I applied the same technique to this dish as I did for my Steakhouse Potato Gratin.
My head of cauliflower was a large head that I got at the bargain price of $2.99. The quart of heavy cream is needed to cook the cauliflower to release some of its natural water, but you don't need the whole thing for the cheese sauce. So, with that being said, I recommend saving a portion of it for a macaroni and cheese dish for another meal. If you can't find bacon cheddar cheese in your store, but want the hint of bacon flavor use 2-3 strips crispy bacon crumbled in the cheese sauce.
- 1 head of cauliflower - broken into florets
- 1 qrt. heavy cream
- 8 oz. bacon cheddar cheese
- 4 oz. cheddar cheese (I recommend mild versus extra sharp.)
- pinch kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- grated nutmeg to taste
- Start by removing the leaves, core and heavy stems from the cauliflower and break apart into florets. Some larger florets are fine.
- Have your cheese grated and ready and set aside.
- Add the heavy cream to a large sauce pot and place the cauliflower in the cream. Heat over medium high heat until you see bubbles just starting to form, turn down to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Spray your deep casserole dish with a cooking spray and using a slotted spoon remove the cauliflower from the cream and add to the casserole dish.
- Over low heat uncovered continue to cook the cream and reduce it to evaporate out some of the water, stirring occasionally.
- Add in all of the cheese, stir and turn the heat off. Stir occasionally until all the cheese is blended in.
- Pour 2 cups of the sauce over the cauliflower and save the rest for making another dish. If you are doubling up on cauliflower then you may need to use all of the sauce.
- Bake in a preheated 375° oven uncovered for about 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350° and cook for an hour more.
- Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Bake time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 6-8 portions
Cost: approximately $9.68, serving 6 for $1.59 each or serving 8 for $1.19 each
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