Ever since I read about the famous Mac & Cheese in Modernist Cuisine I’ve wanted to apply it to the classic dish cauliflower Mornay. Their recipe helps solve a problem that plagues all béchamel based cheese sauces, namely, the starch and milk are not sufficiently good emulsifiers to allow you to add large amounts of cheese without the resulting sauce splitting.
The way round this is to use an emulsifying salt like sodium citrate to create a stable emulsion that doesn’t break when heated; the extra cheese acts as a thickener meaning there’s no need for any roux (and it’s notoriously bad flavour release), and not as much milk is required either so the cheese doesn’t get horribly diluted.
My take on the recipe is an amalgam of the one from the Modernist Cuisine book and the simplified version on their website. I chose to use iota carrageenan, which apparently improves mouthfeel, as I had bought some before discovering it could be omitted with little detriment to the final product. I also upped the liquid content slightly as I wanted the sauce to be a bit thinner so it would coat the cauliflower thoroughly.
The second time I made this I used my Thermomix and just threw all the cheese in one go before blitzing at full speed for two minutes; it worked perfectly but when using an immersion blender it was specifically stated to add the cheese gradually so I’m not sure if my trick would work there too.
400g cauliflower florets
2.5g Worcestershire sauce
6.25g sodium citrate
1.13g iota carrageenan (optional)
125g Comte, grated
53g cheddar, grated
- Seal the cauliflower florets in a single layer in a vacuum bag.
- Place in a temperature controlled water bath at 85.5°C for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring the milk to a simmer and whisk in the salt, sodium citrate and iota carrageenan.
- Using an immersion blender, blend in the cheese gradually into the simmering pan and blitz until the cheese is completely melted and incorporated into the sauce.
- Place the cooked cauliflower into roasting dish and pour over the cheese sauce.
- Mix the ingredients thorough and place under a grill for around 5-10 minutes to brown the top. Serve immediately.