Sunday, July 22, 2012

Poblano Cauliflower Gratin

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is either loved or hated.  Myself, I love it.  I usually toss some in a steam basket then toss with butter, salt and pepper and I'm happy.  So, when I come across a recipe for cauliflower that lets me take it a little further I'm all over it.

I found the recipe on Rick Bayless' website and selected it to share for I Heart Cooking Clubs July Potluck.  I really liked the ingredients in this recipe.

Cauliflower, poblanos, cream, cheese, butter, and shallots.

I would put the recipe in the easy category.  You'll get to practice some basic kitchen techniques like blanching the cauliflower and roasting peppers.  I like to roast mine right over an open flame on the range top.  Get them nice and blistered on all sides.

Once they are nice and charred, I put them in a plastic bag, close it and let them be for about 10 to 15 minutes.  They'll steam which will make them easier to peel.  The skin should slide right off.

Once peeled and seeded (please wear food gloves for this) you'll pureé in the food processor until it's smooth.  This is going to be a great part of the sauce and it's such a beautiful green!

To get the sauce started you sauté the shallots

Make a roux by adding the flour.  Be sure to cook the flour for a couple of minutes so the sauce doesn't have a doughy flavor.

You'll slowly add the cream (I like to warm my cream first) and whisk it in until it's smooth.  Then, stir in your cheese.  This recipe called for a Mexican queso anejo but I could not find that specific cheese.  Rick mentions that you can substitute with Romano or Parmesan.  I used Parmesan.

Lastly, stir in your Poblano pureé.

Slowly let it return to a boil and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.  Remove it from the heat and add the salt.

Gently fold the sauce into the blanched, cooled and dried cauliflower florets.

Pour all into a lightly greased casserole and sprinkle with a topping made of chopped almonds (I used blanched), panko crumbs and a little olive oil.

Bake in a 400° F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly and the topping has browned nicely.  When you take it out of the oven you get to sprinkle the top with extra grated cheese.  Yum.

The gratin turned out to be creamy with a crunchy topping thanks to the panko and almonds.  The hint of poblano put it over the top. 

Rick suggests, and I would agree, that this would make a great dish to take to a potluck dinner because you can make it ahead of time and it only takes 20 minutes in the oven.

A couple of added notes here...
I had a bit of this for lunch today and it does great as a leftover!  The cauliflower stayed nice and firm; not mushy.  Also, I think I might very lightly roast my almonds before chopping them; not too much because I don't want them to get too brown during baking.

Cauliflower Gratin
Adapted from Rick Bayless' Test Kitchen
Serves 8

3 pounds cauliflower
2 large (8 ounces) poblano peppers
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 Tbsp. flour
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other garnishing cheese such as Romano or Parmesan + 3 Tbsp cheese for final topping
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 Tbsp olive oil

Mise en place:
  • Lightly oil and 11 x 7 casserole dish
  • rinse and cut cauliflower into bite-size florets
  • roast poblanos and place in plastic bag
  • dice shallots
  • grate cheese
  • chop almonds (by hand or food processor)
  • measure out butter, flour, cream, salt, panko crumbs and olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°F.  Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and scoop in the cauliflower florets.  Blanch for 4-5 minutes until just tender.  Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.  Spread onto towels and let the florets dry completely.

Remove the poblanos from the plastic bag and, wearing food gloves, peel and seed the peppers.  Pureé in a food processor until smooth.

In a 4 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and cook for several minutes or until the shallots have softened.  Stir in the flour and continue stirring for 2 minutes to make sure that the flour has cooked.  Whisk in the heavy cream slowly so you don't get lumps in your sauce.  Then stir in the queso anejo (or other cheese) and the poblano pureé.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened.  Remove it from the heat, season with 1 tsp salt.

Place the cauliflower florets into a large mixing bowl.  Pour the sauce over and gently toss to coat.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

For the topping:
In a small mixing bowl, mix together 1/2 cup panko crumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.

Spread evenly over top of casserole and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle top with remaining 3 Tbsp grated cheese.

I'm sharing this recipe at IHCC


  1. How can you argue with Cauliflower, poblanos and gooey cheese?!? It looks like a winner to me!

  2. Oh wow, it's like mac and cheese but with cauliflower! Brilliant!

  3. I found this recipe a week or so ago while searching his website and vowed to make it. Reading your post has moved this recipe to the top of my list. I love it! Looks so creamy and delicious.

  4. I love cauliflower too. And the fact that this recipe has roasted poblano in it just takes it over the top for me. Sorry I'm just now getting through last week's potluck!