I honestly think that the application of the term "kitchen luminary and amazing home cook" cannot be applied to anyone better than Julia Child. She brought French cooking to the American and British masses (like I needed to tell you that!), and incorporated a style, grace and manner of teaching that endears her still to cooks and chefs worldwide. She also has the distinction of being the only cookbook author - indeed, the only chef - that made my mom change her entire approach to a dish that she's been making and we've been eating for years: cauliflower and cheese sauce. I personally have nothing against mom's recipe - really, it is delicious and probably won't be replaced anytime soon in our home. But Julia's recipe is not simply cauliflower and cheese sauce. And it certainly isn't the same "lighter" option for a dinner side that mom's Weight Watchers - age casserole is.
No way. It's Choufleur et Choux Broccoli a la Mornay Gratinee. There's butter. And milk. And bechamel made into sauce Mornay. With cheese... lots and lots of two types of cheese. There simply would be no luxury, no French, without her trademark butter. Why? Because it's Julia. You've seen bloggers, chefs and home cooks alike have marvelled at her inclusion of anything rich or decadent to dishes without batting an eye, never apologizing, never so much as glancing at her own waistline or the dietary fads that faded in and out. The later editions of her cookbooks refuse to bend to the will of the new, "health-conscious" cook, proudly displaying each and every ingredient as it should be, explaining each element's function, and asserting that yes, you do need to add that butter. It will be all right.
This recipe was, in my mom's words: "so decadent it is like eating melted velvet. Julia knows what she's talking about". And no kidding: who else would declare the undeniable truth that "life itself is the proper binge"?
Choufleur et Choux Broccoli a la Mornay Gratinee
Serves 10 veggie lovers!
1 tbsp salt, for blanching water
1 large head broccoli, chopped into florets
1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1/4 cup salted butter
6 tbsp flour
2 cups evaporated milk, heated to a near boil (Julia would use whole milk or better, half-and-half. We had evaporated 2% on hand)
1 cup 1% milk, heated to a near boil (see above comment on milk)
1/3 cup fresh-grated Swiss cheese (Gruyère is fantastic)
1/3 cup fresh-grated Parmesan (the real stuff, guys!)
3 tbsp panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp fresh-grated Swiss cheese (again, Gruyère if you can)
2 tbsp melted, salted butter, plus more for baking dish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.
- Add broccoli and cook 4 minutes, remove to an ice water bath to shock then drain completely.
- Add cauliflower to the water and cook 6 minutes. Remove to an ice water bath to shock and then drain completely.
- Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat.
- Add flour and cook, stirring continuously, for 2-3 minutes (it should not colour). Remove from heat.
- Pour in hot milk all at once and immediately begin whisking vigorously, incorporating all of the roux from the sides, bottom and edges of the pan.
- Return to medium-low heat and stir until the sauce comes to a boil. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and mix in the cheeses, nutmeg and cayenne until sauce is smooth.
- Preheat oven to 375F and grease an 9 x 13 roasting casserole with butter.
- Spread 1/3 of the hot Mornay sauce on the bottom of the dish.
- Pour blanched vegetables on top of the sauce and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Pour remaining sauce overtop in an even layer. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese, then drizzle with melted butter*.
- Place in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake 35 minutes. Serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 13.8 g
Cholesterol: 41.3 mg
Sodium: 232.5 mg
Total Carbs: 19.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.1 g
Protein: 11.4 g