It’s that time of the year where all you want is hearty meals, straight from the oven, and I’m here to help you with that. The top to this gratin is as crispy as potato chips, but below the surface is layers and layers of rich, velvety deliciousness. It’s satisfying yet not too heavy; making a roux to build the sauce upon allows you to use regular milk while most gratins call for heavy cream to reach this level of creaminess. Using a head of cauliflower also helps separate this from the familiar gratins that make you want to take a nap immediately after eating. The best part? This is even better leftover. Like, way better. If you’re a poor slob like me, you’ll be joyously eating this for breakfast all week.
I’ve been obsessed with this bechamel (or in today’s case, this mornay) for the last couple of months. You’ve seen a variation of it in the Tofu Stuffing recipe from Dear Guts’ Favorite Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes and you’ll be seeing it again soon in a future post (on my favorite dish I’ve made all season). You’ve also seen me post a more complex and slightly experimental gratin before (Cauliflower, Kale & Caraway Gratin with Smoked Tilapia) which also featured cauliflower…What can I say? Roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite foods.
The sauce contains a little bit of everything your taste buds require to stay happy and you’ll see why I’ve been putting it (minus the cheese) on everything I put in oven. Soy sauce, white wine vinegar, butter, chicken broth, alliums…it’s everything you crave during this trying time of year in one simple sauce.
Cauliflower and Potato Gratin
(serves 8 as a side)
8 small yukon gold potatoes (or potatoes of choice but let’s be honest, whose potato of choice isn’t yukon gold?)
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk (2% – whole)
1 cup cheese of choice (gruyere, fontina, parmesan would be ideal)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp chicken bouillon (or equivalent to making 1 cup of chicken broth)
1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 450. Using a mandoline or knife, slice potatoes into very thin slices, making sure they’re as uniform as possible. In a large pot, melt butter. Whisk in the flour and cook until slightly browned. Add the shallots and garlic, then slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly and quickly until combined. Add in the cheese, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, thyme, pepper and chicken bouillon. Bring to a slight boil, then simmer ~3 minutes or until mixture is thickened. If there’s room in the pot, add in the potatoes and cauliflower and stir until evenly coated. If there’s not, pour half the sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish, then add about half of the potato/cauliflower mix and stir to evenly coat, then repeat with the rest of the sauce and mixture. Apply a thin dust of freshly grated nutmeg over the entire dish.
Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for 25 minutes more. Turn on the broiler for ~5 minutes if the top isn’t darkened and crispy at this point. Let rest 5+ minutes before serving. Reheat at 425 for 15 minutes.