[M]y mom had a few predictable and necessary things she’d have to repeat ad-nauseam to my sister and me at our family dinner table night after night. There was the inevitable ‘sit still and someone please say grace’ followed by something like ‘do NOT kick your sister under the table’ or ‘stop staring at your sister when you know it bothers her and eat your fish sticks, thank you’.
My favorite/least favorite was ‘eat your vegetables, they’ll make you beautiful’. The vegetables she was referring to were usually barely steamed broccoli or cauliflower served nearly raw (and yes, full of nutrients… which is entirely unimpressive to an eight year old). If the (basically raw) vegetables weren’t eaten within three minutes of leaving the steamer they devolved into sometime entirely inedible to a child that wanted nothing more than a Happy Meal for dinner. Eat your vegetables. They’ll make you beautiful. Eat them. Eat them. No seriously. Eat them.
We ate them.
What my mom didn’t have in mind is that I’d grow up to simmer my dinner vegetables in butter and olive oil and serve them in a homemade Cheddar Beer Sauce. I mean… Eat your vegetables! (roasted and toasted and awesome!) They’ll make you beautiful. (and so will the cheese sauce?) Oh man. Thanks mom / Sorry mom.
Here’s how this happens. Here’s what you’ll need: a big head of cauliflower, a big pot to boil it in, butter, olive oil, lemon, and spice.
For the cheese sauce, all good things which include: milk, butter, beer, mustard, and Worcestershire.
First cauliflower takes a bath. A most delicious bath with simmering water, olive oil, melted butter, spice, bay leaf, and a good dose of salt.
The whole cauliflower will simmer away for about 15 minutes, softening from the outside to the core, absorbing the flavor and seasoning, and becoming coated in a light butter and olive oil wash. It’s all a very good way to start.
Once simmered and softened, the cauliflower is removed from the boil and drained well.
Into a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled generously with smoky paprika.
Definitely smoky paprika. The flavor is much richer and has much more character than regular paprika. Buy it in bulk… it’s a great secret weapon in the kitchen.
Into the oven to crisp and brown.
While the cauliflower bakes and browns, we make a creamy cheddar beer sauce. Obnoxious, really.
Milk and butter, a bit of flour for thickening, a pale beer, and a whole lotta cheddar cheese.
Think of this as roasted broccoli with melted cheddar except we’re working with super soft roasted cauliflower, and a creamy smooth cheddar sauce.
If cauliflower could become butter… I mean, this is what it would look like.
Roasted. Toasted. Browned and otherwise perfect.
I poured the warm cheddar beer sauce around the warm whole cauliflower and… game over.
Savory. Rich. The cauliflower becomes almost as soft and creamy as the cheese sauce. Oh wait… did I mention this we’re serving cheese sauce with our vegetables? Yea. It’s good to be grown.
This recipe is inspired by the mega delicious Roasted Cauliflower from Domenica Restaurant here in New Orleans.Print
For the Cauliflower:
- 10 cups water
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¾ cup beer (something light like a pilsner or amber)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- To make the cauliflower, pour water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the salt, olive oil, lemon juice, butter, sugar, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Stir until butter has melted.
- Gently lower the cauliflower into the simmering water. The cauliflower should simmer top down in the liquid. No need to stir much. Just let it simmer away for 15 minutes or until very soft. To test the softness, insert a thin knife into the cauliflower. The knife should meet no resistance.
- While the cauliflower simmers, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Carefully lift the cauliflower from the water and place in a colander to drain.
- Place warm cauliflower in a pie plate. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with smoked paprika.
- Roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pan two or three times during baking.
- To extra brown the cauliflower, turn the oven to broil and roast for 3 to 5 more minutes. Keep an eye on the cauliflower to ensure it doesn’t burn too much.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the cheese sauce. The cauliflower will be piping hot.
- To make the Cheddar Beer Sauce, heat butter in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk together to form a paste and cook for a few seconds to develop a nutty aroma.
- Slowly stream in the milk and whisk until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the beer and Worcestershire sauce and whisk until smooth, well incorporated and thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and smooth.
- To serve, place warm cauliflower in a serving dish. Pour the warm cheddar beer sauce around the cauliflower and serve. Enjoy!
recipe inspired by, and adapted from Domenica Restaurant in New Orleans.
- Serving Size: serves 4 to 6