How to make the best cauliflower cheese according to a chef

No roast dinner is complete without a big ol' slab of cauliflower cheese.

In fact, some people might even say that it's the best bit of the meal. But if you want to enjoy it to its full potential, then making it at home is the only way to go.

During my past working as a chef in some of Merseyside's biggest restaurants, I've made my fair share of cauliflower cheese. And while to many this will be like teaching a fish how to swim, this recipe is for those who would like to be able to make it properly - and for well-seasoned (no pun) cauliflower cheese makers to scrutinise (and criticise).

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Cauliflower cheese

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 500g cauliflower

  • 30g butter

  • 30g plain flour

  • 400g milk

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/4 onion

  • 3 cloves

  • 150g of cheddar cheese and parmesan (grated)

  • 1 tsp English mustard

  • 1 tbsp of Panko breadcrumbs

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Stud the bay leaf to the 1/4 onion using the cloves. Place this into a saucepan along with the milk and heat gently. Once it begins to boil, quickly remove from the stove and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

  2. Place another saucepan over a medium heat with the flour and butter inside and use a spatula to stir the ingredients into a a roux (this is essentially a paste used to thicken sauces) and cook for a minute to cook out the raw flour taste.

  3. Whisk in the milk (discarding the studded onion) little by little until you have a thick, smooth sauce.

  4. Once your sauce begins to bubble, fold in the grated cheeses, reserving a big handful for the topping. Once fully melted and incorporated into the sauce, mix in the mustard. Season with salt and pepper and taste to check the seasoning.

  5. Preheat an oven to 180ºC.

  6. Cut the cauliflower into florets and finely slice the stalks. Add to an ovenproof dish and pour over the cheese sauce.. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.

  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft when a knife is inserted and the topping is crisp and golden.