In Britain, Cheesy Cauliflower Bake is the comfort-food equivalent of our Mac and Cheese. Cauliflower is an extremely versatile vegetable that easily marries with a wide variety of vegetables, meats, poultry, and soups. It also makes a wonderful purée to accompany roast beef or a lamb shank — almost as delectable as mashed potatoes or polenta yet far less caloric.
Since fall has come by calendar but not by temperature where I live, it’s difficult to envision those wonderful cozy comfort-food meals by the fireplace. I’m still picking fresh tomatoes and basil and eating Caprese Salad by the bucket load.
But I’m ready for the coming cooler nights, so I’ve been leafing through my conventional recipes, looking for ideas for “shoulder season.” With a few tweaks here and there, this longtime favorite seemed like an ideal preparation for the water bath.
Luckily, the evening I decided to prepare it sous vide, the weather turned brisk and cool. It couldn’t have been a better meal!
- Preheat the water bath to 175°F (79°C).
- Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the herbs, cauliflower, squash, leek, ¾ cup of the cheddar cheese, ½ cup of the cream, pepper, and salt. Mix thoroughly and divide the mixture equally between 2 large zip lock food bags. Seal using the water displacement method.
- Cook for 2 hours.
- Strain the accumulated bag juices into a saucepan, add the remaining ½ cup heavy cream, and reduce over high heat until thickened, about 15 minutes, watching carefully that it doesn’t boil over.
- Transfer the cooked chicken and vegetables to an ovenproof dish or ramekin large enough to easily hold all the ingredients. Add the thickened sauce and mix well. Heat a broiler to high. Combine the remaining ¼ cup cheddar cheese and the Parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole. Place the dish under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top, watching closely to avoid burning. The assembled dish also can be covered and refrigerated overnight. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature, reheat in a conventional oven at 325°F for 25 minutes, then brown under the broiler.