Cauliflower Cheese

Smitten Kitchen cannot go wrong. My fella requested this one, and I have a deep love of cauliflower and cheese. Nom nom. Via Smitten Kitchen.

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  • 1 medium head (about 2 to 2 ¼ pounds) cauliflower
  • 4 tablespoons (55 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons (30 grams or 1 ounce) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper or ground cayenne
  • 2 cups (475 ml) milk, whole is best but low-fat will probably work just fine
  • 1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons (about 155 grams or 5 ½ ounces total) grated cheddar, the strongest you can get, preferably English or Irish
  • Chopped chives or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim cauliflower and remove tough core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. Steam (for about 10 minutes) or par-boil (6 to 7 minutes) florets until firm but tender. Drain, if needed, and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and a pinch of cayenne or few grinds of black pepper, and stir to combine. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring with a spoon; mixture should thicken. Stir in 1 ¼ cups cheddar, a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.
  4. Spread cauliflower florets in a 2-quart baking ovenproof baking dish. Spoon sauce over florets and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. For reference, if I wasn’t in such a rush to get dinner out on the table, I’d have baked mine a minute or two longer, up to 35 minutes. [I baked my longer, and even put it under the broiler for a couple minutes to crisp up the top.]
  5. Sprinkle with herbs, if desired. Eat with abandon.
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