Holiday Recipe–Cauliflower au Gratin

23 Dec

This recipe is courtesy of my Aunt Violet, one of the best cooks I know.  I served this at Thanksgiving and will also be bringing it to a couple of Christmas celebrations (by popular demand).  I have made some very minor alterations to the original recipe.  This is made to serve a crowd, but you can easily half it.

Violet's Cauliflower au Gratin

9 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 oz. fully cooked ham, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 lbs. cauliflower florets
3 Tbsp. flour
2 1/4 c. half and half
1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste*
pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper plus more to taste
9 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
1-3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, optional

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  Saute ham and garlic for 2 minutes.  Add cauliflower and cook until crisp tender, about 10 minutes.  Combine flour and cream, stir into skillet and blend well.  Add salt, pepper and cayenne.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 1 minute more.   Add cheese, cook and stir until smooth.  Taste and add additional salt/pepper/cayenne if necessary.  Transfer to a 3 qt. baking dish.  Place in under broiler until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley if desired.  10-12 servings.

*Note: I find that the type and brand of ham and cheese I use greatly affects the saltiness of the dish.  Start with 1/2 tsp. of salt.  After adding cheese, add additional salt if necessary.

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