I’ve always loved cauliflower cheese. And as a teenager, quite often when I arrived home from doing my weekend job in our local village shop, my mum would have rustled one up, all ready for me to tuck into. It was one of my absolute favourite lunches and always made me feel pretty special too, as I’d usually get the whole cauliflower to myself.
My mum’s cauliflower cheese was just fab and despite me now needing to follow a gluten free diet I can still enjoy cauliflower cheese exactly how my mum used to make it as she would use cornflour to thicken the white sauce rather than flour.
Whilst the method I use to make cauliflower cheese is the same as my mum’s, I do tend to throw in a couple of extra ingredients to give more depth of flavour to the cheese sauce. For this particular recipe I’ve added in some smoked bacon too.
Me and Neil had this cauliflower cheese as a side dish. I also packed my best friend off with some to try. Which left just enough, for me to reheat and pop into a jacket potato the following day. This would make such a great lunch or supper to enjoy with family and friends.
Ingredients (2 good portions as a main or will nicely fill 4 large jacket potatoes)
1 large cauliflower, divided into even size pieces
250g smoked streaky bacon, cut into about 1inch strips
575ml semi skimmed milk
20g unsalted butter
1 good heaped tablespoon *cornflour (add more if you feel the sauce isn’t quite thick enough)
175g good mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon *English mustard (I used M&S which is gluten free. Many English mustards are not gf. You could also use Dijon or wholegrain mustard instead but still check suitability)
Pinch of *Paprika (optional)
Ground *black pepper
Handful of freshly chopped parsley
I recommend if you can, to steam the cauliflower rather than boil it, as it’s a healthier way to cook it and it tastes so much nicer too. Dependant on the size of your cauliflower you may need to use two steaming baskets and then carefully switch them 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 boiled) 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 the 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 blended milk and cornflour, whisking constantly until the sauce is nice and smooth. Allow the sauce to come to a gentle boil before you turn off the heat. The will ensure the cornflour has cooked out fully.
Add most of the grated cheese to the sauce (keep enough back to sprinkle over the top before popping in the oven) and mix well until the cheese has melted. Add the mustard, Paprika (if using) and fried bacon. Add more pepper and paprika to taste.
Pour the sauce over the cooked cauliflower and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top.
Bake for 20-25 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.
If you are short of time, you can make the cauliflower cheese and providing that you use a suitable heatproof container, pop the bake under a hot grill to brown instead of putting it in the oven. However, if you have made the cauliflower cheese in advance and chilled it, do cook it in the oven as this will ensure that it has been thoroughly reheated.
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 checking it out.
*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.