I have been enjoying this dish at family dinners ever since I can remember. I have no idea where the recipe originated, but both my mother & grandmother used to cook it, and was great as a side dish to roasts & fish dishes. I actually had to measure my ingredients tonight so I could tell you how much I used! I am so used to just throwing everything in the pan willy nilly.
You will need:
1 small to medium cauliflower
4 tablespoons plain flour
Good handful of grated cheese of your choice
Pepper & salt
Cauliflower is such an underrated vegetable. I bought this lovely cauli for $2.75 at my local farmer’s outlet, where they only sell what’s in season locally for very reasonable prices. I actually bought this one two weeks ago, and found it in the fridge tonight as perfect as the day I bought it! I was very surprised; if it was a broccoli it would have been a slimy mess. But there was my cauli, perfect as can be.
Cut your cauliflower into ‘trees’, I kept mine at the larger size for this dish. You will need to steam your cauli pieces until they are tender, because they won’t get cooked for long enough in the oven. I just did mine in the microwave for about 6 minutes.
For the white sauce, you will need to warm up your milk before you can use it in the sauce. I also do this in the microwave. And you can grate the cheese while waiting for the milk :-)
Pre-heat your oven to about 180-200 degrees Celcius. I actually used the non-fan-forced setting for this dish, to get the top nice & golden.
In a large-ish saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Wait until it’s nice & bubbly, then sprinkle the flour over the butter. You might want to take it off the heat at this point, until you can get it all mixed together and scraped off the bottom of the pan. Return it to the heat and cook for a full minute, being careful not to let any area of the bottom of the pot alone for too long, as it will burn.
At this point you can start adding your warm milk a little at a time. Add a bit, then stir until it’s fully combined. Then you can add some more. Warm milk added a little at a time ensures you don’t get any lumps in the sauce. Here’s what my sauce looked like after about 5 additions of milk:
It is still quite thick at this stage. Here’s what it looked like after half the milk had been added:
Nice and smooth! Keep adding milk until you reach your preferred thickness, the thicker the sauce the richer your dish will be. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Once your sauce is ready, get your oven dish and spread out a little sauce in the bottom of it. Then put in your cauliflower pieces (used tongs so I didn’t get any excess water into the sauce).
Pour the sauce over the cauliflower so they are smothered in sauce, and sprinkle over the grated cheese.
Stick in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden-brown.
Serve and enjoy!