Tipsy Cauliflower Cheese
1 large head cauliflower, about 2–2 1⁄2 lb (1 kg)
5 tbsp (75 g) unsalted butter, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced or grated
1⁄4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp English mustard powder
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
2 tbsp (30 ml) brandy
11⁄2 cups (360 ml) whole milk
2 tsp (10 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1⁄4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
11⁄4 cups (140 g) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
3⁄4 cup (85 g) grated Gruyère cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (50 g) panko breadcrumbs
Reprinted with permission from Cork and Knife by Emily Clifton and Matt Clifton, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Emily Clifton
Authors’ Instagram @nerdswithknives Publisher: @pagestreetpublishing
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C), and set a rack to the middle position. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut out the tough core, and break the cauliflower into 1- to 2-inch (2.5- to 5-cm) florets. Boil the florets until they’re fork-tender but not falling apart, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and lay the florets on a few paper towels to dry them as much as possible.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons (60 g) of butter. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and mustard powder, and whisk to combine. Cook the flour paste for 1 minute. Add the wine slowly, whisking constantly so that no lumps form. Repeat with the brandy. Then, add the milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking until it’s fully incorporated. Add the Worcestershire sauce and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring with a spoon until the mixture comes to a full simmer and thickens, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat and add both cheeses, a handful at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Turn off the heat, taste the sauce and add salt and black pepper, to taste.
In a 2-quart (2-L) ovenproof baking dish, spread the cauliflower florets evenly. Pour or spoon the sauce over the florets. Melt the last tablespoon (15 g) of butter in a small bowl, and add the panko breadcrumbs. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the cauliflower. Place the baking dish on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the top is brown and bubbly, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.