Broccoli and blue cheese gratin is a simple comforting casserole that makes the perfect Thanksgiving side dish.
Broccoli and blue cheese gratin. Ooooh baby, this is how we like our broccoli. Buried in a not-too-rich sauce with a hint of heat from cayenne and ample oomph from pungent blue cheese. The make-it-in-advance trick doesn’t do anything to dissuade us, either.Choose a mild blue cheese, such as Bleu d’Auvergne or Gorgonzola, for this recipe. The broccoli is first steamed until tender, then cloaked with cheese sauce and topped with buttery crumbs for baking. You can steam the broccoli and prepare the sauce in advance, then finish and bake the dish just before serving.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin
- 3 heads broccoli
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for the baking dish
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 to 2 ounces blue cheese preferably Bleu d’Auvergne or Gorgonzola, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Lightly butter a gratin or 8- or 9-inch baking dish.
- Trim and discard the thick stalks from the broccoli. Cut each head in half lengthwise. Place the broccoli in a steamer rack set over boiling water, cover, and steam until easily pierced with a fork, 7 to 12 minutes or so, depending on the size. Drain and rinse the broccoli under cold running water, then coarsely chop it. Drain it again, then transfer it to a bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plate, and set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour until smooth. Return the pan to low heat and slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Slowly whisk in another 1/2 cup of milk. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened again, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup milk and simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the blue cheese and cook, stirring, just until melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the sauce over the broccoli and turn gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into the prepared gratin dish, smooth the surface, and top with the buttered bread crumbs. Cut the remaining butter into bits and dot the top. Bake until bubbling around the edges and golden on top, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.
In Advance AdviceYou can cook the broccoli early in the day, or even the day before, and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. You can also toast the bread crumbs and leave them at room temperature for up to several hours.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This broccoli and blue cheese gratin made a fairly easy side dish for our family dinner. I love the tang from the blue cheese and the crunch from the bread crumbs. They both added more interesting tastes and textures than some other vegetable gratins that exhaust your taste buds with so much richness.
First off, last summer, some friends of mine were in Iowa and brought us back gifts for housesitting. These gifts included La Quercia prosciutto and an entire wheel of Maytag blue cheese. (Yeah, I know, these are really good friends!) Anyway, we’d been slowly getting through the blue cheese when this broccoli and blue cheese gratin recipe popped up, and all I can say is, killer! The dish came out of the oven creamy, slightly pungent, and super tender. I do have to point out one small beef I had with the recipe. What, really, is a head of broccoli? The broccoli at the farmers markets tends to be much larger than the stuff at the grocery store, so I guessed and used 2 bags of Trader Joe’s florets, which, IMHO, should be used anyway since it saves so much time. Other than that the recipe works fine as written. We ended up eating the whole pan for dinner, it was that good.
This broccoli and blue cheese gratin was very nice. You can never go wrong with broccoli and a cheese sauce. The blue cheese added great flavor but was not overpowering. The sauce was creamy with a hint of heat. The bread crumbs were a fantastic touch. I just wish there was a weight on the broccoli crowns. The crowns can be so diverse in size I was hoping for the best as I selected them. Thankfully, all turned out well. In fact, beyond well. Excellent.
I have never combined broccoli with blue cheese but this duo works incredibly well! The bechamel rounds out the piquant flavors of the gorgonzola but we’re still left with that spicy finish from the cayenne. The recipe works well, but I wonder if we could have made the sauce in fewer steps by adding the milk all at once? And also, I’m a huge fan of using the broiler, so I would definitely finish this gratin under a direct flame for a few minutes to get that wonderful crispness. Overall, a hearty yet robustly flavorful veggie side dish.
Originally published November 10, 2017