Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Our version of this comfort-food favorite includes two kinds of cheeses plus a surprise ingredient: cauliflower. Bread crumbs add an irresistible crunchy topping.
- 3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. pancetta, julienned
- 1 1/2 lb. cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch florets
- 3 to 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbs. white wine
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded fontina cheese
- 3 cups shredded Gouda cheese
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 lb. fresh macaroni, cooked until al dente
Preheat an oven to 375ºF.
In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, melted butter, parsley, 1 tsp. of the salt and 1/2 tsp. of the black pepper.
In a 4-quart pot over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and reserve the fat in the pot. Working in batches, add the cauliflower to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes per batch, adding 1 to 3 Tbs. butter to the pot if needed. Transfer the cauliflower to a bowl. Add 2 Tbs. water to the pot and stir to scrape up the browned bits. Add to the bowl with the cauliflower. Wash out the pot.
In the same pot over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the wine and milk and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the cheeses, the remaining 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, cayenne, nutmeg and cream and stir until melted. Then stir in the pasta, pancetta and cauliflower. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.
Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and cook until the bread crumbs are crispy and brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Serves 10 to 12.