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Feb 24, 2012 12:02 PM

Heston's Cauliflower Cheese (gluten-free)

I made this for an early lunch today as a test, since I've a friend who has celiac disease. (The recipe isn't presented as gluten-free, but it certainly would fit the bill for anyone who needs to avoid gluten.)

So I can serve something to her as a side dish that isn't just another round of "steamed and buttered something", I'll occasionally try things that look interesting. You never know, plenty of crowd-pleasers are naturally gluten-free, but cheese sauces usually aren't since they start with a butter/flour roux.


First, this is a fun dish to make. The sauce becomes incredibly stringy! So stringy, I forgot to add the knob of butter to it before enrobing the cauliflower. Oops!

This is a very adult dish. The base liquid has wine and stock reductions, I used Sauvignon Blanc and homemade stock, and it doesn't result in a dish where the vegetable is swimming in sauce. You don't even bake it, just brown it, so the cauliflower must be thoroughly cooked before it goes under the broiler.

I'm sure the trio of pickling one-third of the cauliflower, deep-frying another third, and then boiling the remaining third would create a very intriguing result. I merely steamed it all today, and was still pleased with it.

With nearly a half bottle of wine used for the reduction, and gruyere running $10-20 per pound, it's getting up there in price for a side dish considering you use nearly a third of a pound of cheese. I'm positive it could be made with a lesser expensive cheese, and probably even apple juice instead of the wine. I used a $7 bottle of wine and a domestic cheese from Trader Joe's, plus cauliflower was on sale this week, but even so I figure this dish cost at least $8 to put together. That's in a budget-busting range for a lot of people.

My homemade chicken stock is barely salted, and I wasn't happy with the resulting seasoning of the sauce. Luckily, I tasted it before it went over the cauliflower so I could correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. I'd even say that a bit of cayenne wouldn't go amiss.

With a little thinking ahead in regards to the cost and flavors, I would make this again, but only expect those with an educated palette to rave about it prepared as is. The approach to how it's prepared is certainly unique.

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  1. I've been watching this How To Cook Like Heston series and I am LOVING it - easily the best practical cooking show I've seen possibly ever. Recently saw the cheese ep and am actually planning to try his cheese sauce (the one you used above, no roux, cornflour on the cheese, wine and stock this Sunday.

    Glad to hear this worked for you, even with adjustments!

    3 Replies
    1. re: montrealeater

      Please let me know how you like it, since I'm planning on serving this as a side dish to a guest sometime in the future. I don't want to foist anything questionable onto someone just because of a medical condition.

      I ate about a third of it as a light lunch today, so there's plenty more to nosh on this weekend. I thought it'd have a unique taste, so I didn't know what to plan on serving with it ahead of time. Now I'm scrambling to think of what I can make, since I usually don't eat cauliflower as the star attraction of a side dish like it's done in the UK.

      Agreed about Heston's show. He's completely turned my thinking around on a few subjects, especially stocks. I made his poached eggs one morning, and they came out brilliantly, better than any poached eggs any where any time.

      1. re: RelishPDX

        Oooh, you tried the poached eggs, huh? I also want to try those, as well as his boiled eggs (if I knew a way to get reliably runny yolk and unrunny whites...well, that would be profound). And YES on the stocks! I have already bought some milk powder so I can try his chicken stock because that looked like just about the best thing ever. A friend is going to lend me her pressure cooker. I'm REALLY excited about the stock, and the cheaty consomme as well.

        Btw, the show is on Youtube for anyone who's interested. Search for 'How To Cook Like Heston' - I can truly say the series has been the source of several genuine revelations for me. I'd love to get opinions from other Chowhounds on it.

        Oh...the roast chicken, too, I really want to give that a go, but I think my oven is too crappy to get the temps right.

        1. re: montrealeater

          Oh, do the consomme! It took a whole day and a half to break down fully in the fridge, but 6 cups of the chicken stock transformed into 5 cups of shimmeringly clear consomme without any real effort on my part. Truly an impressive result.

          I feel like inviting someone over for dinner now just to show off with it. :)