Friday, March 15, 2013

Ham and Cauliflower in Cheese Sauce

Cauliflower is on sale for $.99 per pound while all the other greens are sky high. What to do with cauliflower? This dish from Fern's childhood stars cauliflower and is simple to make.  It took me 30 minutes to prepare and 60 minutes to cook. Preheat oven to 350FÂș.

Thinly slice about 1 1/4 lbs ham and cut into 1 1/2 inch strips.  Thinly slice 4 or 5 potatoes and cut the cauliflower into florets. Cover the bottom of a lasagna pan with sliced ham.  Cover the ham with potato. Cover the potato with cauliflower.

Cheese Sauce

2 tsp flour
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup or more milk
1/4 lb extra old cheddar cheese (cheap is awful, good quality is delicious. Kraft should be bottom of list)
pinch of salt

Put flour and oil in sauce pan, mix and cook the flour taste off but don't brown the flour. Remove from heat and add chicken stock, whisk to smooth then add milk and whisk. Put back on heat and add thin sliced or grated cheese. Keep stirring so it doesn't burn on the bottom and add more milk if it's too thick.   Water will come out of the cauliflower, potato and ham while it cooks so the sauce needs to start a little thick. When cheese is melted pour sauce over cauliflower, cover with foil and put in oven for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes so all the moisture doesn't steam off as soon as the foil is removed.

I was worried that it would be bland but there was enough salt in the meat and cheese to carry the dish. I could have added a little more milk so sauce covered everything but it tasted fine the way it was.  Fern doesn't like a plate swimming in cheese sauce so a little thin is better than too much. This is another comfort food although it is good enough to sit on a fine buffet. The quality of the ham and especially the cheese determine how good this dish will be.

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