Tuesday 29 April 2014

Chilli and bacon cauliflower cheese

When did cauliflower cheese become a side dish instead of a main course? Don't get me wrong, I love a spoonful of cauli cheese with a roast dinner as much as the next person, but it seems churlish to make such a delicious dish as a support act. It's also a pretty calorific and fairly time-consuming element to have in a large meal when no extra calories are really called for.

But I remember when cookery books would refer to cauliflower cheese as "a supper dish". An event of its own.

As I thought through this meal-in-itself version of cauli cheese, I originally thought about serving it with some roast potatoes on the side, but the bacon crumb topping makes it substantial enough without another starch. Of course, if an extra person or two turn up at your table, some potatoes would make the dish go further.

I made a base layer of a little spicy tomato sauce, made from 1/2 a red onion, 2 rashers of bacon and 150g of halved cherry tomatoes, sauteed together in a little butter, then thickened with a teaspoonful of tomato puree and 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle paste.

I boiled the cauliflower, broken into large florets, until just tender, then allowed it to drain really well and all the steam to evaporate before I arranged them over the tomato sauce. In the pot I'd boiled the cauliflower in, I made the cheese sauce from 30g butter, 30g flour and 300ml skim milk, stirring in 125g grated mature cheddar cheese, a sliced green chilli and a good handful of slightly sad coriander, chopped. Then I poured it evenly over the cauliflower.

The final step was to cut 3 slices of stale light rye sourdough bread into smallish chunks. I put them in the food processor along with another rasher of bacon, chopped, and 2 cloves of peeled garlic. I added a slosh of olive oil and pulsed it to coarse breadcrumbs. I piled the garlicky, bacony, oily crumbs on top of the cauliflower cheese, then baked it for about 40 minutes at 180C, until it was crunchy and brown and the cheesy sauce was bubbling up around the edges.


Joanne said...

I would personally be pretty happy eating cauli cheese as an entree! Yum!

Couscous & Consciousness said...

Oh! My! Gosh! This is just totally my idea of heaven.

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I would definitely consider this a great meal on its own! Nice new look with the blog as well, by the way. :D

grace said...

i haven't had a bite of cauliflower for years! this looks so creamy and comforting, what a wonderful way to make cauliflower delicious!

Simona Carini said...

I agree with Joanne :)


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