- 12 cups cauliflower florets (3 lbs or 2 small cauliflower)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 freshly cracked black pepper, divided
- 6 strips bacon, chopped
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 sweet onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups hot milk
- 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cups of shredded Gruyere cheese (or white cheddar)
Method of preparation
Preheat oven to 425F. Place cauliflower onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake until edges begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375F.
Meanwhile, in heavy-bottom pot over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring frequently until crisp, about 3-5 minutes, spoon 1 1/2 tbsp of bacon fat into panko and stir well; set aside.
Add onion, 2 tbsp warm water and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized, about 12-14 minutes. (Add water, 2 tbsp at a time as needed, and scrape brown bits from bottom of pot).
Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, scraping bottom of pan for 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; whisk in salt, pepper, Dijon and gradually melt cheese in until smooth. Add cauliflower florets and mix to combine. Scrape into 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with panko.
Return to oven and bake until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.