Southern breaded cauliflower is cheesy and creamy, with a few spices added to make things interesting. If you like, you can leave out the nutmeg and cumin, but they really do take the dish from standard to sensational. You could even add a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon if you like to amp up the sweetness, or a few pinches of cayenne to up the spice.
Prep Time 30minutes
Cook Time 1hour
Total Time 1hour30minutes
Author Stephanie Stiavetti
1large headcauliflowercut into florets
1mediumshallotdiced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2teaspoonfreshly ground white pepper
2 1/4cupswhole milkwarm
3/4cupgrated pecorino Roman cheesedivided
1 1/2teaspoonskosher salt
1/2cuppanko-style bread crumbs
2tablespoonsroughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
Set the oven rack to the middle and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of a pot fitted with a vegetable steamer. Cover and set over medium heat. Once the water boils, drop florets into the steamer, cover, and steam until tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Grease the bottom and sides of a small casserole dish and arrange the florets in a layer inside.
Add butter to a small heavy saucepan and melt over low heat. Add shallot and cook until gently browned, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Whisk in flour, pepper, nutmeg, and cumin. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until pale golden brown, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and heavy cream and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the pecorino. Season to taste with salt, then pour sauce over cauliflower in casserole dish.
In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, melted butter, and remaining pecorino. Stir well and sprinkle over the top of the florets. Bake until gently browned, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately, or alternatively, sprinkle with more cheese and broil briefly for a darker, crisper topping.