Cauliflower cheese with crispy maple syrup pancetta

Cauliflower cheese with crispy maple syrup pancetta

More Home Comforts
Peter Cassidy

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether cauliflower cheese should make it into More Home Comforts, as it’s left many people scarred for life – overcooked cauliflower with lumpy cheese sauce. When it’s made properly (so easily done: blanching cauliflower, then dipping it into iced water, then reheating it in the oven), it can be a fantastic dish. The crispy maple pancetta turns it into a certain favourite in my house.


Quantity Ingredient
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
100g unsalted butter
40g flour
500g milk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
300g extra-mature cheddar cheese, grated
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 slices brioche, blitzed to crumbs
20 rashers pancetta or streaky bacon
2 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Preheat the grill to high. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the cauliflower and cook for 5–6 minutes until tender.
  2. While the cauliflower cooks, melt 50g of the butter in a large saucepan, then whisk in the flour and cook for 1–2 minutes. Whisk in the milk slowly until you have a thick sauce, then add the mustard and half the grated cheese, and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain the cauliflower and place it in a bowl of ice-cold water to stop it cooking. Drain again and tip into an ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower, top with the rest of the grated cheese, then place under the grill for 5 minutes until golden and bubbling.
  4. While it’s under the grill, heat a frying pan until hot, add the last 50g of butter, and when it’s foaming, add the brioche crumbs and fry, tossing occasionally until golden-brown and crispy. Tip out into a bowl, then wipe out the pan and add all the pancetta. Fry until golden brown and crispy, then add the maple syrup and toss until sticky.
  5. Scatter the breadcrumbs over the top of the cauliflower cheese and top with the pancetta and any remaining drizzles of maple syrup. Serve straight away.
Home Comforts
British food
classic recipes
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