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Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin

If the French celebrated Thanksgiving, I’m sure they’d find a place at the table for this cauliflower gratin recipe. Simply made, appealingly rustic, and very tasty, it can sit alongside a main course or, with a little salad (and maybe even some cranberry sauce), take the stage alone for brunch, lunch, or supper. The recipe was given to me more than twenty-five years ago, and after making it the first time, I wrote in the margin that it was a little like a quiche (it’s really only the addition of flour that sets it apart from a quiche filling) and in some ways like a pudding, in that it’s rich, soft, and creamy. It’s a classic—it was popular when it was first passed along to me, and it’s a recipe that’s still treasured today. Serve it alongside anything roasted—it’s nice with something a little rich like a roast—or have it with a salad and call it supper.–Dorie Greenspan

LC A Cauliflower Scorned Note

If you know of anyone who can’t bear cauliflower, you may coax them into trying Dorie Greenspan’s spectacularly indulgent cauliflower gratin recipe, which envelopes the potentially offensive little florets in a luxurious and really quite forgiving blanket of cream, egg, Gruyère, and bacon. And if that still doesn’t do the trick, well, you did what you could. It just means there’s more for you.

Cauliflower Gratin Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 50 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 10 side servings

Ingredients

  • Butter, for the baking dish
  • 1 cauliflower (a medium head, about 2 1/2 pounds or so)
  • 1/4 pound bacon, cut crosswise into slender 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
  • 3 ounces Gruyère (you can use Emmenthal or even Swiss in a pinch), grated

Directions

  • 1. Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 425° F (232°C). Generously butter a 2 1/2-quart ovenproof dish and place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. (It’s not elegant and it’s a tad too big, but a 9-by-13-inch baking dish works fine.)
  • 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut florets from the cauliflower, leaving about an inch or so of stem. Drop the florets into the boiling water and cook until fork-tender, anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the florets. (Alternatively, you can steam the florets over salted water.) Drain and rinse the cauliflower florets under cold running water to cool them and pat them completely dry.
  • 3. While the cauliflower is cooking, toss the bacon strips into a heavy skillet, place the skillet over medium heat, and cook just until the bacon is browned but not crisp. Drain and pat dry.
  • 4. Spread the cauliflower in the buttered pan and scatter the bacon over the top.
  • 5. Place the flour in a bowl and gradually whisk in the eggs until blended. Slowly whisk in the cream and milk. Season the mixture with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir in about 2/3 of the cheese. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and bacon, shaking the pan a little so that the liquid settles between the florets. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top.
  • 6. Bake the cauliflower-bacon gratin for about 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If the top isn’t as brown as you’d like, run the gratin under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
  • 7. The gratin is best just from the oven or warm, although it can be enjoyed at room temperature, just like a quiche. You really should eat the cauliflower-bacon gratin the day it’s made, but if you’ve got leftovers, cover and refrigerate them, then let them come to room temperature or warm briefly and gently in the oven.
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