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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: cauliflower, cheddar cheese, fine sea salt, milk, piment d'Espelette


For the Cauliflower:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower broken into slightly larger than bite-sized florets
  • Fine sea salt
  • For the Cheese Sauce:
  • 2-1/2 cups (880ml) whole milk
  • 1 bay leaf from the Laurus nobilis
  • 3 tablespoons (45) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Fine sea salt
  • 4 to 5 cups (200-250g) grated Cheddar cheese (sharp is best), or to taste
  • Piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper to taste


  • Set the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket, then place this in a large saucepan with about 2-inches (5cm) water in the bottom. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and steam the cauliflower until it is tender through, which will take 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat; keep the cauliflower warm.
  • Pour the milk into a medium-size saucepan. Add the bay leaf and set the pan over medium heat. Scald the milk, remove it from the heat and keep it warm.
  • Melt the butter in another medium-size saucepan over medium heat until completely melted. Whisk in the flour and let the mixture foam and cook, whisking occasionally, for at least 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk with the bay leaf and cook, whisking regularly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. If the sauce isn’t thickening, increase the heat slightly, and whisk occasionally.
  • Stir in the cheese, continuing to stir until it melts. Season l to taste , and remove from the heat. The sauce is ready to use immediately.