Cauliflower Gratin w/Bacon and Pepper Jack Cheese
16 oz. cauliflower florets
1/2 lb. bacon, diced.
6 tbsp butter, divided into 4 tbsp & 2 tbsp
3 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 c. half & half
8 oz. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. bread crumbs
In a large saucepan with salty, simmering water blanch cauliflower for 3 minutes - drain. Set aside. Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a microwave-safe dish, then stir in breadcrumbs - when cool, stir in 1/2 c. shredded cheese. Preheat oven to 375 degrees - generously butter an appropriately-sized baking dish, here I used a 13" oval.
Fry bacon in a large fry pan (not non-stick) until it is crispy and has rendered most of the fat - drain and set aside. Place pan back onto stove and melt butter over medium heat, then add flour and salt - whisking until it begins to bubble, let cook for a minute or so. Pour in half and half, whisking until mixture begins to bubble again and thicken. Adjust heat to low and add ALL BUT 1/2 C. SHREDDED CHEESE (this you will add to the bread crumb/butter topping). Whisk cheese/half and half mixture until the cheese is fully melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
Place cauliflower, bacon and sauce into a bowl and stir to combine. Pour into baking dish then top with crumb/cheese mixture. Place into oven and bake for 25 minutes - remove and allow to sit for ten minutes, then serve. Allowing it to rest will help the dish to set.