Ingredients

2 large cauliflowers (or 3 smaller ones), broken into florets
olive oil
100g unsalted butter
100g standard flour
1 sprig fresh sage, finely chopped
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1½ litres whole milk
500g cheddar, grated
flat-leaved parsley, to serve
sourdough bread, to serve
Served with: BUTTERED OLD FASHIONED

The cauliflower cheese was actually a place holder on a winter menu that made it to print when we ran out of time to come up with something more mind-blowing. That said, it sold so well that it's a classic we have to keep on through the colder months (though its popularity never waned even through summer). Maybe it's the nostalgia that keeps it ever-seasonal? With brown-butter notes and general old-timeliness, both this and the Buttered Old Fashioned are united in taste and tempo. Best served in front of an open fire, vinyl on the radiogram filling the room, a cigar prepared as digestif – or streaming Mad Men on your laptop, curtains closed, in bed.

Instructions

1.Arrange the cauliflower in a large rectangular baking dish.
2.Drizzle with a good glug of olive oil and a healthy amount of flaky salt and cracked black pepper.
3.Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes or until soft and browning at the edges.
4.To make the sauce, add the butter to a large pot. Heat gently, stirring frequently, until lightly browned.
5.Add the flour and mix well to form a smooth paste. Add a drizzle of olive oil if the mixture becomes too thick.
6.Add the sage and a few fine gratings of nutmeg (about a pinch; if you can taste it you’ve added too much).
7.Add 1 cup of milk stirring constantly until it’s incorporated, then continue to add the milk about 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until all the milk is incorporated. Ensure you scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent burning.
8.Once all the milk is added, lower the heat to minimum and add the cheddar in small batches – add about a handful at a time to avoid the sauce splitting.
9.Once cooked, remove the cauliflower from the oven and turn the oven up to 250°C.
10.Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and jiggle the pan to combine.
11.Season well with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until it begins to brown at the edges.
12.Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then garnish with flat-leafed parsley and olive oil.
13.Serve with warmed crusty sourdough to mop up any leftover cheese sauce.

Drinks Thomas Hansen, Bartender at Civil and Naval Bites Evan Kiddey, Chef at Civil and Naval / Photography Dean Kozanic

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