To call today’s side dish rich would be an understatement. It may look like it won’t feed a ton of people, but trust me, one scoop of this will go a long way. Does that necessarily mean you’ll stop after one sensible serving? Probably not. The holidays have no rules anyway. So what makes this Double Gloucester Cauliflower Gratin so rich? Well, unsurprisingly it’s the sheer amount of cheese, the smoked almond pretzel crumble, and did I mention the cheese? There’s a whole lot to love about this dish, so let’s get started.
The first thing we do is make the malt vinegar shallots. I like pickles with my cheese, particularly with a sharp cheese like Double Gloucester. We’re making a quick pickle, so we’re going to get the shallots on their merry way before we do anything else. And by the time our gratin is fresh from the oven, the pickled shallots will be ready for us. Finely slice one large shallot into half moons and place it in a bowl. Add half a cup of malt vinegar, one teaspoon of mustard seed, two teaspoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt. Mix everything together and set it aside to pickle at room temperature.
Now that the pickles are pickling, we’re going to preheat the oven to 425°F. This is so we can get the cauliflower rolling. Popping raw cauliflower into a casserole dish and covering it with cheese sauce will not result in the buttery texture we’re going for. We want a melt-in-your-mouth cauliflower experience, not an oddly-crunchy-in-places experience. So break a head of cauliflower into florets. Do your best to make them evenly sized. I understand this is easier said than done, so don’t kick yourself if you wind up with a handful of undersized florets.
Once the cauliflower is broken down, arrange the florets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your two clean paws, scrabble the cauliflower around so it’s coated in the oil and salt. Evenly space the florets on the baking sheet allowing for space on all sides and pop the sheet in the oven. Roast the cauliflower until golden, about 10 minutes.
While the cauliflower is roasting away let’s make the cheese sauce. This sauce is based on the Queso recipes you find elsewhere on the blog. I prefer this over a typical mornay sauce because it uses evaporated milk. Evaporated milk works well here because it is more resistant to curdling, so it will stay creamy and smooth even after a trip in the oven. And in the unlikely event you find yourself with a ton of leftovers, this cheese sauce reheats beautifully without breaking. Plus, the soft sweetness of evaporated milk plays very nicely with the sharp umami flavors of the cheese.
Start by shredding roughly 200g of Double Gloucester cheese. Feel free to swap this for a sharp cheddar or Red Leicester, either would do very nicely here. Shred about 60g of low-moisture mozzarella. This is to add a bit of a cheese pull to the sauce. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch and toss to coat. The cornstarch will act as the thickener for the sauce.
Now, pour a can of evaporated milk into a small saucepan and heat it to the verge of boiling. Don’t let it come to a boil, a nice steam is all we’re looking for. Once the milk gets to the proper temperature, sprinkle in the cheese and whisk the sauce until it melts completely.
By now, your cauliflower should be done. Take it out of the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Leave the cauliflower to cool slightly. Grease a shallow casserole dish and pile the cauliflower into it. Pour the cheese sauce over top. Try to distribute the sauce evenly. You may not need all the sauce. Add only what is sensible to your eye. I used about 3/4 of it and my gratin was very cheesy. The leftover cheese sauce was incredible the next day heated with a side of tortilla chips. Just saying!
Now that the cauliflower and cheese sauce are cozy in their casserole dish, it’s time to make the crumble. Pour 1/2 a cup of pretzels and 1/4 cup of smoked almonds into a food processor and blitz until fine. Sprinkle the crumble over the dish and pop it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Top with the Malt Vinegar Shallots and fresh parsley and serve immediately!
And that’s everything you need to know about this Double Gloucester Cauliflower Gratin. It’s rich, punchy, and loaded with umami. Truly overwhelming in the best possible way!
Double Gloucester Cauliflower Gratin
- 1 1.5 Qt. casserole dish
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 Large baking sheet
- 1 Food Processor
Malt Vinegar Shallots
- 1 large shallot sliced into half moons
- 1/2 cup malt vinegar
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- ½ tsp kosher salt
Double Gloucester Cauliflower Gratin
- 1 head cauliflower broken into florets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 200g (7oz) Double Gloucester shredded
- 60g (2oz) low-moisture mozzarella shredded
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 (354ml, 12 fl oz) can evaporated milk
- 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
- ½ cup small pretzels I used Rold Gold Tiny Twists
- ¼ cup smoked almonds
- 1 batch Malt Vinegar Shallots
- Fresh parsley leaves for sprinkling
For the Malt Vinegar Shallots
- Place the shallot in a small bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, and salt. Stir to combine. Cover and let pickle at room temperature for 30 minutes. **1 large shallot, 1/2 cup malt vinegar, 2 tsp granulated sugar, 1 tsp mustard seed, ½ tsp kosher salt
For the Gratin
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set it aside. Grease a shallow 1.5qt casserole dish with butter and set it aside as well.
- Arrange the cauliflower on the baking sheet. Drizzle the veg with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss the cauliflower around to ensure it's evenly coated in the oil. Space the cauliflower out so there is room between each floret on all sides. Transfer the cauliflower to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.1 head cauliflower, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt
- While the cauliflower is roasting, make the cheese sauce. Place the cheeses in a large bowl and add the cornstarch. Toss to coat.200g (7oz) Double Gloucester, 60g (2oz) low-moisture mozzarella, 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Pour the evaporated milk into a small saucepan and place it over medium-low heat. Bring the milk to the verge of boiling and lower the heat to low. Sprinkle in the cheese and whisk until the cheese melts completely. Add the mustard and stir to combine.1 (354ml, 12 fl oz) can evaporated milk, 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
- Take the cauliflower out of the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer in the casserole dish. Pour the sauce over top. ***
- Place the pretzels and the almonds in a food processor and blitz until fine. Sprinkle the crumble over the gratin and place it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.½ cup small pretzels, ¼ cup smoked almonds
- Garnish with the Malt Vinegar Shallots and fresh parsley leaves. Serve immediately.1 batch Malt Vinegar Shallots, Fresh parsley leaves