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Cauliflower cheese with smoky bacon recipe

cauliflower cheese with smoky baconI love cauliflower cheese but for years battled unsuccessfully to create the best sauce. I thought that it should be a simple béchamel sauce with cheese.

Wrong.

My sauce was so thin that you could almost see the dish beneath due to the volume of liquid (water) produced by the cauli. So, after a few years, I gave up. My cauliflower cheese making enthusiasm was packed away.

When we miraculously brought Fred’s dying cauliflower back to life, I decided to have one final go. Miracles tend to spawn more miracles and I had a thought. If I made a very thick béchamel sauce, it might overcome the watery sauce problem. It worked.

We had an excellent Easter Day lunch at my sister’s. As we only wanted a snacky supper, we feasted on cauliflower cheese in a thick, cheesy, smoky bacon sauce. The left-overs heated up well a couple of days later (in an open dish in a moderate oven) and worked as a side dish to a tender, very young rack of lamb. Excellent.

Cauliflower cheese with smoky bacon recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 firm cauliflower
  • 50g of butter
  • 75g of plain white flour
  • 500ml of milk
  • 200g of mature cheddar cheese – grated
  • 100g of smoked cooking bacon – chopped
  • Breadcrumbs from two crusts of bread

Method:

  1. Start off with your smoked bacon. The texture of the bacon will balance the rest of the dish. The bacon needs to be crisp and, once done, will keep well in the vicinity of your stove as you prepare the other ingredients. Chop the bacon and fry over a gentle heat until it is golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile wash the cauliflower, divide into equal sized florets and add to a large saucepan of boiling water. Simmer for about eight minutes (testing after five) until cooked but with a bite. Drain through a colander and set the colander on the original saucepan, in a warm place to drain as you make your sauce.
  3. Heat the butter and, when it has melted, add the flour. Let this roux simmer for a minute or so to get a nuttiness. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly so that the roux absorbs all the milk before you add the next splosh. In this way you should avoid lumps. When all the milk has been added let the sauce simmer for ten minutes to thicken. (My sauce was very thick at this stage).
  4. Meanwhile make your breadcrumbs. I used a small fork to scratch them off the crusty ends of a loaf.
  5. Add two thirds of the grated cheese to the thick béchamel sauce and stir until it is absorbed. Taste and season.
  6. Pour one third of the sauce into a warmed ovenproof dish. Add the cooked cauliflower and pour over the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, the smoky bacon pieces and the remaining cheese over the surface of the dish and place under a medium grill for about five minutes to brown.

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Fiona,
    Iam pleased that you corrected me, I did think it odd mixing breadcrumbs with the cheese sauce for the topping! DDDUUUURRRR…….just goes to show,I’ll try anything once! Lol
    Its lovely with a crumble topping made just with breadcrumbs,butter cheese on top of your vegetable bake.Try bechamel add chunks of cheese scattered amongst the veg,it melts and adds another twist to the dish.(good for using up bit of cheeses)
    I just whizz some bread into crumbs(wholemeal’s good)add a few chunks of butter,lastly some mature cheddar chunks. Pour this mixture over the dish,bake in oven until topping is brown,crunchy with bits of melted cheese popping through and the bechamel sauce bubbling away.
    ‘Dig in’ with a lg spoon,molten cheese,vegetables with the crumble topping is very tasty!
    Lv Odelle.

  2. Mmmmm, all sounds great, I love cauliflower,broccoli,cheese with leeks(sweat with a lillte butter),add to dish with the fried smoked bacon,thick cheese sauce, it’s a winner!
    Never tried mixing breadcrumbs in with the sauce, will give it a go.
    Thanks,Odelle.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Odelle

      Don’t mix breadcrumbs in with the sauce – mix them with the cheese topping! Love the idea of leeks – will try this ASAP as always trying to find really low meat recipes to satisfy a large carnivore 🙂

  3. john bird

    We add fried mushrooms and onion

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