Since last Friday’s post, My Week with Ina Garten was rather long, I am going to keep this week’s short and sweet. Or shall I say, short and savory?
Today, I am sharing with you a recipe for Cauliflower-Bacon Gratin which I absolutely adore.
The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table which I received as a gift from my cousin, Joan. Dorie is American, but splits her time between New York and Paris (sigh). Her book is filled with the type of French inspired, “elbows-on-the-table” food she serves to guests in her home. It’s a beautiful collection of recipes and since I too am in love with all things French and particularly the city of lights, I find the book appealing on multiple levels
Dorie is speaking at Wellesley Books next week, promoting her latest book, Baking Chez Moi. Joan and I are attending together (she was with me for Ina too!). It has been a good month for book tours!
If your Thanksgiving menu isn’t completely set in stone, this gratin would be a lovely addition to your side dishes, with or without the bacon. In fact, when I opened the cookbook to prepare the recipe, I reread Dorie’s introduction to the dish where she says that if the French celebrated Thanksgiving, they would most certainly find a place on the table for this gratin! That’s good karma!
The recipe was given to Dorie over 25 years ago and she has been making it ever since. I have also made it on multiple occasions, serving it as a light dinner with a green salad. It’s almost a cross between a gratin and a quiche minus a crust. Cauliflower is cooked until soft but still holds its shape, bacon is browned and the two are baked in a custard made with cream, milk, eggs, Gruyere cheese, a little flour and some seasonings. You could definitely add herbs or swap out cubed ham for the bacon. Or leave the bacon out entirely and make it a vegetarian meal. I’ve added some panko breadcrumbs to the recipe just to give the finished dish a little more texture, but you can leave them out if you’d prefer.
To complete some steps ahead of time, you could prepare the cauliflower and the bacon and grate the cheese. Store them in the fridge until you are ready to make the custard (which takes about five minutes) and then pop the dish in the oven for 25 minutes until puffed and golden.
I like to prepare mine in a pan such as this one, but you could use a smaller, deeper pan with good results.
See you next week, but before I go, I thought you’d enjoy these pictures. They were taken at Versailles a few summers ago when we were visiting. There was an art installment, including these “pumps”, completely made from pots and pans! A little shocking to see them in the Hall of Mirrors, but very clever I have to say!
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan's book, Around My French Table, adapted ever so slightly.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1/4 pound bacon, cut crosswise into slender strips
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg
- 3 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (Emmenthal can be substituted, Swiss in a pinch)
- 1/2 cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Generously butter an oven-going pan that holds about 2 1/2 quarts (a 9 X 13 pyrex works but is a little big. I use an oval stoneware gratin dish). Put the dish on the baking sheet.
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cut the florets from the cauliflower, leaving about an inch or so of stem. Drop the florets into the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse the cauliflower under cold running water to cool it down, and pat it dry (you can steam the cauliflower if you prefer).
- While the cauliflower is cooking, toss the bacon strips into a heavy skillet. Put the skillet over medium heat and cook just until the bacon is browned but not crisp. Drain and pat dry.
- Spread the cauliflower out in the buttered pan, and scatter over the bacon bits.
- Put the flour in a bowl and gradually whisk in the eggs. When the flour and eggs are blended, whisk in the cream and milk.
- Season the mixture well with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir in about two-thirds of the cheese.
- Pour the mixture over the cauliflower, shake the pan a little so that the liquid settles between the florets. Mix the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and scatter over the gratin.
- Bake the gratin for about 25 minutes, or until it is puffed and golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top isn't as brown as you'd like it to be, run it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
Tips from The Kitchen Scout
The Kitchen Scout Tips: Remember to season well your custard mixture with salt and pepper. And this recipe is light on the cheese, but you can make it more indulgent by using up to 8 ounces of Gruyere cheese. You can also make the flavor more complex by adding some sharp cheddar. Another idea to amp up the volume is to add some minced shallot to the bacon drippings and cooking until just wilted and adding them to the custard. Or you could add some chopped chives.
Delicious! We loved it, thinking about adding it to our Thanksgiving table.
Excellent! I think it would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving feast! Have a wonderful holiday, Marte!
Made this tonight. I used purple cauliflower from the Calabasas Farmer’s Market: it was colorful! And quite tasty!
Both my sister in law and I have decided to make this. I’m making it tonight – will report back. Thanks again Val.