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Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin

January 24, 2011

yummy creamy cheesy goodness

Okay, so firstly… this picture is horrendous. If you click here, you can see HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO LOOK. Again, iPhone = laziness + burnt bacon + not fully melted cheese = cooking flop photo. However, despite how it looks, it was tasty!

This dish could seriously make everything right in the world. It’s so creamy, so beautiful, so deliciously cheesy and just sinfully sensual. I can’t even imagine the amount of calories involved in this recipe, nor do I want to. In this instance, I am more than willing to feign ignorance about the caloric intake. I imagine it makes a beeline to your hips and thighs. That’s how you know it is delicious though. I think it’s really interesting that people are still geared to eat fatty foods because of evolution (i.e. store as much fat as you can) and as a consequence it tastes so damn delicious.

I can’t remember where I first heard of this recipe, but it sounded so good. I didn’t know what a gratin was, and if I’m honest, I still don’t really know (something sinful?). I did know I liked the sound of cauliflower, bacon, and gratin though! It sounded fancy, and since I was making this for Christmas, I wanted to be fancy. It just sounded so… French, so obviously “fancy”, but at the same time it had such a down to earth presence about it (rustic?). If you look at the photo that the gratin is supposed to look like, you’ll notice that it looks beyond delicious. How can you not want to make something that looks that good?!

So I made it but I messed up. I didn’t grate the Gruyère cheese. Instead I chopped  it up and threw it in to the casserole dish so instead of melting into an ooey gooey pile of sin, it just stayed put. Clearly it didn’t reach it’s melting point. However, it still tasted good in chunks! My dad said, “I don’t know how you did it, but you made cauliflower actually taste delicious.” Which was a super compliment! Anyways, I hope that you will excuse my atrocious picture and instead just focus on the ingredients that go into this dish to make magic. I didn’t eat very much, but I blame that on this being so rich, and me being very hung-over. What I did eat was spectacular though!

Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin by Dorie Greenspan
Page 362, from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • ¼ pound bacon, in thin strips
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/ 3 cup whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (I used dried ground nutmeg)
  • 3 ounces Gruyère, grated (grated is CRUCIAL)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Make sure the rack is centred. Line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure to generously butter a dish that can go in the oven, preferably one that is around 9×13 (needs to be able to hold 2 1/2 quarts).
  2. Boil a large pot of salted water. While boiling, cut (or pull) the cauliflower florets. Make sure to leave around an inch or so of the stem. Once the water is boiling, put the florets into the water for 10 minutes. Once ten minutes is up, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat the cauliflower dry.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking, you can start cooking the bacon. Toss the strips into a skillet on medium heat. Cook until the bacon is browned but not crisp. The bacon will be cooking more in the oven. Drain the fat, and pat the bacon dry to remove excess fat.
  4. Spread the cauliflower throughout the baking dish, then shred and scatter the bits of bacon.
  5. Put flour in a bowl, then gradually add the eggs into the flour by whisking. Once they are fully blended, whisk the milk and cream into the mixture. Season it with pepper, nutmeg, and salt and then add two thirds of the cheese.
  6. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower, making sure to shake the pan so that it is evenly distributed.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until it is golden and puffed. A knife should come out clean. You can brown the top by broiling, but be careful not to burn the gratin.

This makes around six servings, and it should be served directly from the oven! As you can tell from the picture, I burnt mine. I made the bacon crisp, forgetting it was going to be baked! I also tried to get the cheese to melt by broiling, but it didn’t happen! ENJOY.

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