A delightful English side dish, cauliflower cheese is a recipe that showcases cauliflower in a rich cheese sauce cooked to perfection in a skillet. A whole head of cauliflower is covered in a creamy sauce and baked until tender. You can scoop it from the skillet onto your plate as a savory side dish.
Unlike traditional bechamel sauces (cheese sauces) this is a simplified version. It uses cornstarch (cornflour) to thicken rather than a traditional and more cumbersome butter and flour roux.
This is perfect for family-style dining where everyone can serve themselves. Personally, we like one whole cauliflower, but it can also be made with florets from a broken down cauliflower.
Cauliflower Cheese Recipe
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon herb rub
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 8 inch skillet
- Remove the cauliflower leaves and thick inner core being careful not to lose its structure.
- Place the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water about 1-inch (2 1/2cm) deep. Place on simmer until the cauliflower starts to soften.
- Remove from the pot and place on a rack and allow to drain.
- Place 2 cups of milk in a pot over medium heat and gently heat. Keep an eye on it because when milk boils it froths over in a spectacular and messy fashion.
- Combine the remaining ½ cup of milk and cornstarch to create a slurry.
- As the milk comes to a boil add the cornstarch slurry and keep stirring as it thickens creating a white sauce. As it reaches a simmer again add the grated cheese and stir to melt to create a bechamel sauce.
- On the bottom of the skillet, pour a small amount of the bechamel sauce. In the center place the cauliflower head. Drizzle the remaining bechamel sauce over the top of the cauliflower.
- Sprinkle evenly in turn with the shredded cheese, breadcrumbs, paprika, herb rub, and parsley.
- Place in a camp oven, smoker, or closed barbecue until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.