Baby Cauliflower Mornay

Small individual cauliflower's are gorgeous in May and early June with closely knitted florets, they are tender but crisp at the same time. Mornay sauce is often overlooked and regularly cooked poorly but good mornay sauce with cauliflower is a marriage made in heaven. I like to add egg yolks to my sauce as this makes it puffy, light and golden, and a few fresh breadcrumbs sprinkled over the top give it a little texture.

Portions: 6 Portions

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Cauliflower

  • 6 small baby cauliflower's or 1 large one cut into 6 florets

Infused Milk

  • 900ml milk
  • 1 onion, studded with cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 white peppercorns

Mornay Sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 150g cheddar, grated
  • 3 tsp hot English mustard
  • pinch nutmeg, grated
  • maldon salt
  • 2 egg yolks

To Cook

  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs

To Serve

  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Milk: Place the milk in a saucepan with the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring the milk to a steady simmer, reduce the heat to a low simmer and leave it to infuse for 10 minutes (be careful not to let boil). Strain the milk and set aside to use for the sauce.
  2. Cauliflower: Bring some water to the boil in a large saucepan and place the cauliflower in it. Allow them to cook in steady simmering water for 5 minutes until they are just tender but still slightly crisp. Drain them and set aside.
  3. Sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the cornflour (it should all be absorbed by the butter). Cook the roux for a couple of minutes while stirring over a low heat. Bring the infused milk to a strong simmer then reduce the heat to low. While stirring gradually add the milk to the roux stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon so you don't have lumps. When all the milk is absorbed leave it to cook for 5 minutes on a low simmer, stirring regularly until it has become a thick but just pourable sauce. Stir the cheese into the sauce so that it is melted in. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in a little salt, mustard and nutmeg. Allow it to cool slightly then vigorously stir in the egg yolks.
  4. To Cook: Preheat a grill to moderate-high. Place the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish, coat them with the sauce and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs. Place them under the grill for 5 minutes, until the sauce is puffy and the breadcrumbs are golden.
  5. To Serve: Sprinkle the cauliflower with parsley and serve.