Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cauliflower Power - Cauliflower & Chestnut au Gratin with Asiago Cream

I don't know 'bout you, but I really love cauliflower.  Especially when it is covered in cheese sauce (mornay).  And nothin' says cheesy mornay lovin' with complete conviction the way an "au Gratin" can.  This is one of my most favorite au Gratins, followed very closely by Pommes de Terre au Dauphinois.  Who can possibly say "No" to Cauliflower and Chestnuts baked in a thyme laced Asiago Cream sauce.  It's utter decadence.  Which is why I only make it once a year.  And Thanksgiving is the perfect Holiday to bust this one out.

I believe I originally got this recipe from the Hastings. Then again I have read so many recipes over the years, it could truly be anyone...  LOL   I know it originally called for 3/4 lb Purple Cauliflower and 1 lb of White Cauliflower.  Me? I prefer to use the 3/4 lb of the Orange Cauliflower instead, but could not find any this year. I also like to change out the Parmigiano-Reggiano for Asiago, though it is quite tasty with Gruyere as well.

I apologize for the final pictures looking kind of messy, but it was Thanksgiving.  In this family, no one is really willing to take a chance that the food might get cold in order for someone to take a picture of it... LOL

Cauliflower and Chestnut au Gratin

1 3/4 lb (795 g) Cauliflower florets, cut into bite sized pieces (or 1 lb White and 3/4 lb Orange)
12 Roasted Chestnuts, chopped
4 cups (945 ml) Heavy Cream (yeah, you know it's gonna be good)
2.6 oz (75 g) (3/4 cup) Asiago d'allevo, freshly grated (and now it's better than good)
1/2 tsp Thyme, chopped
8 oz (225 g) fresh French baguette, torn into 2-inch pieces
2 TB Thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped
3 TB Chives, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
~1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
~3/4 tsp Black Pepper
4 oz (113 g) (1/2 cup) (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted (and this makes it awesome)
~1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
~1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Disassemble the cauliflower head into bite sized pieces...

For reference, that is about this big....

In a medium stockpot, combine Cauliflower, Chestnuts, and Heavy Cream.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; immediately reduce heat to low and simmer until Cauliflower is tender. (about 10 to 12 minutes)

Remove cauliflower and chestnuts from cream with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.

Add shredded Asiago and Thyme to the Cream and bring to a boil over medium flame.

Reduce heat to low and Simmer until cream sauce reduces by half and thickens slightly. (about 15-20 minutes)

Meanwhile, it's time to make the bread crumb topping......

Tear the baguette into 2 inch pieces.

Place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until breadcrumbs are formed.

Transfer crumbs to a large bowl, then add Thyme, Parsley, Chives, Lemon Zest, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper;

Mix with hands until well combined.

Drizzle with melted Butter and toss with a fork until the crumbs and herbs are evenly coated; set aside.

When the sauce is ready.....
Return cauliflower to Parmigiano-Reggiano Cream mixture and stir to coat well, then season with Salt and Pepper.

Spoon Cauliflower mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 baking.

Top with the Breadcrumb mixture.

Move the baking dish to the oven and bake until topping is golden and sauce is bubbling. (about 4 to 5 minutes)

Serve warm. (Trust me, it doesn't really have a chance to get cold)


1 comment:

Cathy W said...

Yum--I love cauliflower! I especially like your homemade breadcrumbs. This year, I finally processed some myself--they are so good!