I have always loved cauliflower cheese, it used to be my ‘Saturday lunch’ of choice when I was a teenager, and very often when I came home from doing my weekend job in our local village shop, my mum would have rustled up a cauliflower cheese beauty ready for me to enjoy! It’s making me smile as I tell you about this lunch, as all those years ago, it wasn’t the done thing to cut up the cauliflower prior to cooking, so I usually had a whole cauliflower to tuck into!! What’s really great about the way my mum used to make it, was, despite the traditional way of making a cheese sauce is to make a roux, she would instead make it by simply thickening the milk with cornflour. So, despite not needing a gluten free diet at that point in my life, the cauliflower cheese in fact, was naturally gluten free and tasted tremendous!
To create an ever so simple twist and delightful piquant to the cauliflower cheese my mum used to make, I have added mustard to my cheese sauce, a tiny pinch of paprika and some delicious pan-fried streaky smoked bacon!
Me and Neil had this cauliflower cheese as a side dish and therefore there was also enough to pack my best friend off with a dish and some left over for me to reheat the following day and pop into a jacket potato….which I must tell you worked SO well! Another great lunch or supper suggestion to enjoy with your pals.
Ingredients (2 good portions as a main meal or enough to fill 4 large jacket potatoes)
1 large cauliflower – divided into even size pieces
250g smoked streaky bacon – cut into about 1inch strips
1 slightly heaped tablespoon *cornflour
175g good mature cheddar cheese – grated
1 teaspoon *English mustard (I used M&S which is gluten free)
Pinch of *Paprika
Ground *black pepper
Handful of freshly chopped parsley
I recommend if you can, to steam the cauliflower, as it’s healthier to cook it this way, plus it tastes much nicer than when you boil it. As there will be too much cauliflower to cook in one metal steamer basket, it’s best to split the florets between two baskets before setting them over the pan of boiling water. And then carefully switch around halfway through cooking to ensure the cauliflower cooks evenly (hope that makes sense!). Steam for about 15 minutes in total. If you choose to boil the cauli, simply add the florets to a large pan of boiling water, then reduce the heat to achieve a fast simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. For both cooking methods test the cauli to ensure its cooked to your liking before removing from the heat. Once cooked (and drained if boiling) transfer to a large deep oven proof dish.
Heat a large frying pan and add the chopped bacon (no extra oil needed as there is plenty of fat on the bacon). Add a little twist of black pepper and continue to fry the bacon until it’s nice and crispy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6/Fan 180C
Pour most of the milk (reserving about 100ml to blend with the cornflour) into a large pan, add the butter and bring to the boil.
Whilst you’re waiting for the milk to boil, blend the remaining milk and cornflour together.
Once the milk has boiled pour in the cold milk and cornflour, whisking constantly to ensure the sauce is nice and smooth. Just allow the sauce to come to a gentle boil before you turn the heat off as this ensures the cornflour has cooked out.
Stir into the white sauce a teaspoon of mustard, a pinch of paprika and most of the grated cheese (keeping enough back to sprinkle over the sauce before baking), mix well until the cheese has melted. Add the fried bacon, give it all a good stir and have a taste to see if any extra pepper or paprika is needed.
Once you are happy with the flavour of your sauce, pour it over the cooked cauliflower and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top.
Pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
You can make this cauliflower cheese in advance and it will keep really well in the fridge for 24hrs. Just don’t sprinkle the cheese over the top until you are ready to bake it.
And of course, without the bacon this recipe is simply a very tasty cauliflower cheese to enjoy as a vegetarian or veg dish!
Another recipe I’ve loved sharing with you…..thanks for reading and really hope it’s made you want to make it!
*Check this product out to ensure no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable’ warnings on the pack. If in doubt leave it out.