In Season: Cauliflower

Whole Butter Basted Cauliflower with Brown Butter White Sauce 

Serves / Makes 4

I have an odd claim to fame in our family, and that is that I make the best cauliflower and white sauce. The secret is in the flavouring of the milk used to make the sauce. A classic béchamel with the milk scalded with onion and bay, and a dash of nutmeg is all that is required, it’s a small extra step that will make all the difference to the taste. The other important step is to salt the water when blanching the cauliflower. 

But then, last Sunday for our weekly family lunch I thought I’d get fancy. As in French culinary terms fancy. Beurre Noisette. Or as I like to call it, the crack cocaine of cooking, brown butter. 

Prep & Cooking Time: 45 minutes 

Ingredients 

1 large Cauliflower, whole with small leaves still attached 

20g Kerrygold butter, melted 

20g shelled hazelnuts, roughly chopped

20g sourdough crumbs from a stale loaf, crumbled 

For the white sauce 

500ml milk

1 slice of white onion

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder 

50g  butter ( I used Kerrygold )  

50g Plain flour

Grating of fresh nutmeg or pinch of ground nutmeg

Grinding of salt & pinch of white pepper 

  1. Preheat oven to 200oC 
  2. Blanch the cauliflower in a large pot of boiling salted water. Do not over cook at this stage, you don’t want mushy cauli that falls apart. Cook the cauliflower with the base downwards and if a bit of the top sticks out don’t worry it will cook further in the oven. Make sure you season the water, this is important, at least 2 big teaspoons. Remove and reserve the water for stock, stand the cauliflower in a colander and  drain as much of the water as you can then pat the cauliflower dry with a clean tea towel. 
  3. Place the cauliflower in a roasting tin, season again lightly and brush generously with melted butter. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes whilst making the brown butter white sauce.
  1. To make the white sauce start by scalding the milk, heat the milk in a sauce pan with the onion and bayleaf, bring to a simmer, and remove from the heat, whisk in the mustard powder and strain into a measuring jug. Discard the onion and bay. Wipe out the saucepan and add the 50g butter , over medium heat cook until the butter goes a nutty brown colour and is deliciously fragrant, you will smell straight away when it is browning. Add the flour and cook out the roux, stirring continually, gradually adding the warm milk, whisk to prevent lumps and bring to a simmer. Season with a good grating of nutmeg and salt & white pepper.
  2. Remove the roasted cauliflower and cover with the sauce pouring over so it drips down the side. Top with the chopped hazelnuts and breadcrumbs, return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
  3. Serve with an additional grating of fresh nutmeg and cut into quarters.

 

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