Cauliflower-Pancetta Gratin

Cauliflower-Pancetta Gratin

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Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Serves 6-8

1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces and rinsed (about 6 cups)
4 oz pancetta*, diced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or Gruyère cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish and let cool.

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pancetta. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until combined. Continue stirring for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Slowly add the milk, stirring continuously until the milk has incorporated and there are no lumps. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir the sauce over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add the Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and the reserved pancetta. Stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower to cover. Top with a sprinkling of bread crumbs.

Bake until the bread crumbs are golden and the cauliflower is cooked, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

*Prosciutto crudo can be substituted for the pancetta. There is no need to pre-cook the prosciutto so just incorporate bite-size pieces into the cauliflower mix in the baking dish before putting it into the oven.

Cook’s note: For a richer and stronger flavor, use Gruyère instead of Parmesan. Or try mixing half Parmesan and half Gruyère!

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