It seems like everyone has some twist on homemade mac and cheese. It wasn’t until I stumbled across this recipe in Heston Blumenthal at Home that I knew I was going to have to try my hand at making one. What got me was the name. Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheese. This did NOT sound good to me, but trusting Heston I forged ahead. The result was simply amazing. This is now my all time favorite Mac ‘n’ Cheese.
This recipe is fussy but what I will say is each component is absolutely necessary to making this magic happen. I think the real success of this dish is not only showcasing a delicious way to use an entire head of cauliflower but the sauce in this is the real star of the dish. The sauce is made of two parts. One is the pureed cauliflower milk mixture and the other is the cheese but the secret ingredient is the Sodium Citrate. The sodium citrate keeps the sauce from clumping and allows it to stay ooy-gooy.
This is one of those recipes where I didn’t need to change a single thing or rework the instructions. Everything is well worked out to make this a success in the home kitchen and with the home cook in mind. In the intro to this recipe in Heston’s book he says, “You can create a really interesting dish by taking a single ingredient, preparing it three different ways, then bringing them together.” This dish does just that with the puree, the raw, and the fried it offers texture, flavor, and complexity. Make this. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
(I should add that I chose to make my own pasta for this dish so I chose bowtie pasta. In the recipe he does call for macaroni though.)
Recipe By: Heston Blumenthal at Home
Yield: 50 ounces
- 1 large Cauliflower, broken into small florets
- 600 g Whole Milk
- 30 g Salt
- 300 g Macaroni (homemade bow-tie pasta works really well)
- 240 g Gruyére Cheese, coarsely grated, plus 50g extra for sprinkling on top
- 120 g Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 12 g Sodium Citrate (purchase at: moderinstpantry.com or myspiceage.com)
- 30 g Wholegrain Mustard
- 90 g Unsalted Butter
1. Place most of the cauliflower florets (approximately 400g) in a sauce pan, keeping some back for deep-frying and finishing, then cover with the milk. Place over a medium heat and simmer for 35 minutes.
2. Liquidize the mixture with a hand blender (you can use a regular blender but you need to let it vent first or fully cool before puréeing), then pass through a sieve into a clean sauce pan. Keep to one side.
3. Heat a pan no more than half full with oil to 350ºF and deep fry half the raw florets until golden brown. (You may need to do this in batches. If doing batches let the oil return to 350º before adding more cauliflower.)
4. In the pan with the cauliflower milk add the cheeses and the sodium citrate and mix well. When the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, add the mustard and butter. Salt to taste.
5. In a large pot bring 3kg. Og cold tap water and the salt to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook until al dente, then strain.
6. In a large bowl add the pasta, the sauce, the fried cauliflower, and the raw cauliflower and toss well. Pour all the contents into a baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place under a broiler until golden and bubbly.