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Sinful Cauliflower Au Gratin

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"Cauliflower in thick cheesy sauce started by my grandmother at least 60 years ago"

Serves 10 | Prep Time 2 hours to overnight | Cook Time 75 minutes

Why I Love This Recipe

This recipe is over 60 years old and I first remember it being prepared by my grandmother. No holiday dinner was complete without cauliflower au gratin. Even members of the kid’s table wanted the dish passed over to them.

No other relative could make this because the recipe was not written down. Ingredients were a scoop of flour, handful of Velveeta, 2 heads of cauliflower if it was on sale. When my grandmother passed away, my mother figured it out after several tries. But still the recipe was not written down.

While my mother was still living, thank goodness I watched her make this family favorite asking questions such as, how big is that scoop? How much milk did you just pour in? How long are you going to bake the casserole? When are you sprinkling on the buttered bread crumbs?

So I got the recipe down after several tries, bubble-overs in the bottom of the stove and some flourettes too big. This dish is not healthy. It’s delicious with a crust around the end of the casserole dish. It’s cheesy and the leftovers are amazing. It’s a wonderful taste in your mouth.

My sister-in-law is using the recipe and getting raving marks. My niece wanted the recipe but asked, “It takes 2 days to make?” It could, but what’s 2 days when you’re getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

This is not a difficult recipe. However, I’ve included tips and techniques to add to the success.

Ingredients You'll Need

2 heads of cauliflower
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons butter/margarine
2 cups milk
1/2 brick of large Velveeta loaf
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 cup dry breadcrumbs
4 Tablespoons butter/margarine


Key Tip: The idea of this recipe is to have a baked sauce that is thick and coats each flourettes. Who wants to fish out cauliflower from a soupy-sauce.

Day before your dinner
Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces – no pieces should have to be cut with knife and fork
Bring a pot of water to boil.
Put in flourettes and boil only 3-5 minutes.
Boil closer to 3 minutes. Any longer and your vegetable will turn to mush when you bake it.
Scoop cauliflower out into a bowl of cold tap water to stop the cooking.
Once cooled enough to handle, drain into a colander.
Key Tip: Drain cauliflower forever and try to get the vegie as dry as possible. Excess wetness will add to a watery sauce. My sister in law even refrigerates overnight in a colander.

Cut Velveeta into half-inch chunks. Set aside.
In a saucepan, melt butter.
Stir/whisk in flour and let bubble for a minute or so.
Slowly whisk in milk – whisk faster than you pour in the milk.
Use a medium heat.
If you’re an old pro at making white sauces, you know how high you can put your heat.
Cook and stir constantly until sauce begins to bubble and gets thick….usually 3 minutes or so after the sauce begins to bubble.
Turn sauce to real low.
Add Velveeta chunks to sauce stirring until smooth.
Take a taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Let sauce cool thoroughly, cover and refrigerate if you’re making the day before.
When this sauce is refrigerated-cold, you won’t believe how thick it is. You may be slicing it instead of stirring it.

Key Tip: Refrigerate sauce and cauliflower is separate containers. Both could ‘weep’ overnight. You don’t want any extra moisture.

The day of your dinner
Take cauliflower and sauce out of fridge first thing and let come to room temperature as much as possible.
Fold cauliflower and sauce together and put into baking dish. This can be a 9 x 13 pan or 2 casserole dishes.
Everything will be cold so bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

In a small sauté pan, put butter/margarine in and pour breadcrumbs over top. Have heat really low. Butter can be melting while you’re doing something else. Use a fork and mix butter and breadcrumbs.
You could make these the day before, but you need to refrigerate so crumbs don’t become rancid.

When casserole has been in the oven for 60 minutes, take out and sprinkle crumbs on top.
Bake 15 minutes more.

When The Cauliflower is Baked
Take casserole out of oven and let sit for a while because it will be a ‘hot patootie’ on your tongue, and besides letting it sit for a bit will thicken the sauce.

Pairs Well With

Holiday dinner menu

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