But the real trick with this cauliflower is the anchovies, which generate a remarkable sweetness, a memorable depth -- and not one bit of fishiness. I'm willing to bet: you won't 'taste' anchovy, you'll just think, Wow, this cauliflower is wonderful.
RECIPE for CREAMY CAULIFLOWER GRATIN
Time to table: 60 minutes
Serves 10 (smaller big-meal servings, 5 standard meal servings)
1 large cauliflower head (mine weighed in at 2 1/2 pounds after the leaves were removed, much of the core Vd out)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic
2 anchovy fillets
3 green onions, white and green parts (these add color but could also use chopped leek or shallot)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup with a Microplane ribbon grater)
Salt & pepper to taste
STEAM CAULIFLOWER: Put steamer onto boil. Trim cauliflower (remove the leaves, cut a deep V into the core and remove it) and cut into small florets (bite-size is good). Add to steamer and cover, cook about 7 minutes or until a knife inserted into a thick stem releases easily. (The cauliflower won't really 'cook' any more, just reheat, so make sure it's the texture you like.) Remove from heat and uncover to cool a bit. Transfer to a baking dish.
SAUCE: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmery on MEDIUM. Add garlic and anchovy, use a spatula to mash the anchovy into small bits, then let cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the green onion, stir well to coat with fat, cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, adjust heat to create a fast simmer and cook down a bit. Add the cream and cook down a bit, watching temperature carefully to avoid scorching. Pour hot sauce over cauliflower. (Or combine the cauliflower and sauce in a separate large bowl before transferring to the baking dish, it might help coat the florets with sauce.)
TOPPING: Mix the topping ingredients, spread evenly over cauliflower just before ready to bake.
BAKE: Bake at 400F for 20 - 25 minutes if done right away, while cauliflower is still hot. If baking from room temperature, I'd allow 30 - 40 minutes.
TO PREP AHEAD
DAY BEFORE Make and assemble the dish, except the topping, cover and refrigerate
MORNING OF Make the topping and set aside
BEFORE DINNER Return the dish to room temperature, add topping just before going into oven
If you use a rasp-like microplane to grate Parmesan, you just might need two, a ribbon microplane as well a fine microplane. And if you're following a recipe exactly, you'll want to measure by weight, because the volume differences are enormous, just look at these two piles of Parmesan, grated from two chunks of the same weight.
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~ 2006 collection Thanksgiving vegetable recipes ~