Creamy cheesy lightly spicy cauliflower is not the delicate gratin you may be used to. This is an explosion of flavor in your mouth!
- 1-1.25 pounds cauliflower florets
- sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup homogenized milk
- 2 teaspoons chicken base
- 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot pepper sauce (your favorite brand)
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
- 1 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1/3 cup buttery cracker crumbs (such as Ritz crackers)
- Cook cauliflower in boiling salted water for 6-8 minutes, then drain and plunge into ice water to stop cooking it. There is a method to the madness of cooking cauliflower, so you can rest assured that the cooking time is not an arbitrary number. As the cauliflower florets cook, they will turn from the ghostly white to a soft buttery color. The florets will turn first, followed last by the stems. Once the stems lose that weird white color, plunge the cauliflower into ice water. After it cools, let it drain well, so it is not water-logged. You can do this ahead of time and chill the cauliflower until needed if you like.
- Preheat your oven to 375F.
- In a large skillet, melt the 2 tbsp. unsalted butter and stir in salt, pepper, and flour.
- Add the milk, chicken base, pepper sauce, and stir constantly while mixture thickens.
- Fold in the blue cheese crumbles and heat until it melts, but do not boil.
- Place about a fourth of the sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish, shaking it to spread it out.
- Place the cauliflower on top of this and cover with the remaining cheese sauce.
- Toss together the bacon crumbles, the cracker crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle this over the gratin.
- Bake uncovered about 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.
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