WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH MORNAY SAUCE
( SERVES 4 AS A MAIN DISH, 8 AS A SIDE)
2 large heads of cauliflower, whole 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, cold
½ heaping cup grated Comté cheese ½ teaspoon fleur de sel
10 turns freshly cracked black pepper
Prep each cauliflower by removing any outer leaves with a paring knife. Cut carefully so that each cauliflower remains whole. Trim the stems so that each one can sit flat.
Fill a large pot three-quarters full with well-salted water and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower, one at a time, to the boiling water floret-side down and allow to cook with the lid on for 6-8 minutes. Test the cauliflower for doneness by gently piercing with a knife. The stalk should be softened, but still firm. As it will continue to cook in the oven after, leaving the cauliflower a little undercooked is better than overcooking at this stage.
Carefully remove the cauliflower from the boiling water using two large slotted spoons or a spider. Place the cauliflower on a large plate for 10 minutes and allow any excess liquid to steam and strain off. Repeat with the second cauliflower.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour over medium-high heat to form a roux. Allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes while continuing to whisk occasionally. Gradually whisk in the cold milk a little at a time, making sure it is fully incorporated between each addition. Whisk in the grated cheese until it is fully melted and a smooth mixture is achieved. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Lay a piece of parchment paper across the surface of the sauce in order to prevent a skin from forming. Keep aside until the cauliflower is ready.
PUTTING I T ALL TOGETHER
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided 2 blanched heads of cauliflower Mornay sauce
Freshly cracked black pepper for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Place each blanched cauliflower stemside down in a parchment-lined glass baking dish. Divide the olive oil in half and pour evenly over the entire surface of each cauliflower. Place in the oven and allow to bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the entire surface of the cauliflowers becomes deeply browned and roasted. Rotate halfway through baking.
Once the cauliflower has become sufficiently roasted, remove it from the oven. Discard the parchment from the surface of the mornay and rewhisk the still-warm sauce until smooth. Spoon half of the sauce over each cauliflower and pop the whole thing back in the oven. Cook again for 5 more minutes. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately.