Katie found me during a busy Friday night to tell me, “There’s a woman at my table who needs to tell you something. She made a comment about the food that I’ve never quite heard anyone say before.”
In those nanoseconds of synaptic activity, my brain was trying to sort out what that might be. Is the customer happy? Dissatisfied? What could it be? What could have been said that was so unusual?
She led me to the table of four women, all of whom were smiling, so I presumed it wasn’t negative. One of the guests pointed to the plate and said, “The sauce on this pasta, I don’t know what you did, but could I be buried in this, please?
We all had a good laugh, and I replied, “I bet we could work something out for you.”
As I’ve said many times, this is the end result of food. A great quality product is nothing without a person enjoying it. No chef is in the kitchen making a great dish without ultimately sending it to the table to bring delight. That’s where it belongs.
Now about the sauce she was commenting on.
It was a Cauliflower Béchamel sauce, and since it’s so basic, I’m going to tell you how to make it.
I start with equal weights of butter and flour. For my quantities, I use pounds, but for your home purposes, four ounces should be sufficient. Melt the butter slowly, and as it reaches liquid form, add four ounces of flour and stir. You will have a thick yellow dough. Keep the heat low to prevent from burning and the let that dough cook for a few minutes, stirring it regularly. Add a few cloves of crushed garlic in at this point.
In about a 2 quarts of lightly salted, boiling water, add a pound of cauliflower, cut up in small pieces. Let the vegetable boil until very tender. Once complete, puree it smooth, using all the liquid. If you have the indispensible immersion blender at home, you can use it to puree the cauliflower right in the pot, but if not, you can transfer the goods to a food processor or blender.
Slowly add a third of the cauliflower puree to the butter/flour mixture. Keep heat at medium low, stirring out the lumps that may form. As it thickens, add more puree. You are looking for a sauce with thickness that pours easily from the ladle, but isn’t runny.
Finally, puree the sauce in the same manner and let it slowly simmer, letting the gentle heat develop more flavor. Some recipes might tell you to add lots of other herbs or such at this point, but if you’ve done it correctly and used a good quality vegetable, it should be sufficient for your house guests to leave your dinner party with a similar compliment.