Gratin (pronounced, gratan) is a culinary technique in food preparation in which ‘au gratin‘, topping of breadcrumbs, butter and cheese is broiled to a golden brown crust, traditionally served in its baking dish. It is very common to prepare the dish with potatoes and macaroni. However,vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans, eggplant or tomatoes may be used in gratin. Chicken, seafood, and sausage meats are also used.
The term le gratin signifies the “upper crust” of Parisian society.
Cauliflower Au Gratin
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 1 head of small (or half of a big) cauliflower (for boiling 1Tbsp flour & 1 tsp salt)
• 450 gr/ 1 lb raw chicken meat, cut into bite-size (or 225 gr/ 1/2 lb already cooked)
• 1 large onion, diced
• 150 gr/ 1/3 lb mushrooms (5 large-size), sliced
• 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
• ½ cup blanched peas
• salt & ground black pepper to taste
• 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
• 4 Tbsp flour
• 590 ml/ 2 ½ cups hot milk
• 2/3 tsp salt
• 1 small piece of bay leaf
• smidgen (1/32 tsp) nutmeg
• ground black black pepper to taste
For au gratin top:
• ¾ cup panko (breadcrumbs)
• 2 Tbsp butter melted
• 4 Tbsp grated Swiss Gruyère cheese
Prepare the Cauliflower:
◊ Cut cauliflower into bite-size florets.
◊ In a large, deep pot, fill one-third with cold water. Patiently sprinkle 1 Tbsp of flour and mix to dissolve (this helps keep your house from smelling like boiled cauliflower!). You need to carefully monitor this process. Put on high heat and bring to a boil.
◊ Place cut cauliflowers in boiling water. Once it boils again, turn off the heat after 3 minutes (no more). Drain cut cauliflowers and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Prepare the white sauce:
◊ In a medium, non-stick saucepan, over medium-heat, melt butter. When hot (not burnt), sprinkle and stir (with a wooden spoon) in flour until smooth. Stir until a light, golden color and begins to rapidly bubble.
◊ Very carefully (as the mixture may splash), gradually stir in hot milk. Continue vigorously stirring until it begins to thicken. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bay leaf. Continue stirring. When roux thickens, remove from stove and set aside, until ready to use.
Prepare the Gratin:
◊ Place rack onto middle oven shelf and preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
◊ In a non-stick pot, add 1 Tbsp butter and sauté cut onion until golden. Add cut (if using raw) chicken and mushrooms and sauté until chicken meat is cooked. Add salt & pepper to taste.
◊ Pour 2/3 of white sauce in the pot, add cauliflower florets, peas (and if using cooked chicken meat), mix them in the pot.
◊ Empty meat mixture into an oven-safe, medium-large dish.
◊ Pour/spread remaining white sauce evenly on top. Cover with foil.
◊ Place in preheated oven and bake until well-heated and bubbling (20~25 minutes). Take out of oven and remove foil.
◊ Mix panko with 2 Tbsp melted butter. Add Gruyère cheese and mix further. Sprinkle all over the top.
◊ Increase oven heat to broil. Put dish back in oven and let the top brown to a crispy, golden brown (2~3 minutes).
◊ Turn off oven and set dish out for 15 minutes, before serving.
~ Bon Appétit! ~
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