Monday, December 12, 2011

Easy, Cheesy Baked Cauliflower and Butter-Thyme Chicken Breasts

Easy Cheesy Baked Cauliflower with Butter-Thyme Chicken Breasts

With cauliflower in a cheesy, creamy sauce, and nestled under a crunchy bread crumb and parmesan topping, and pairs well with a juicy Butter-Thyme Chicken Breast (recipe below); your plate won't miss those mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower! I freeze my own in a gallon freezer baggie,and I used  a whole bag. So,  I would guess that would be about 1 1/2 - 2 regular sized store bought bags. Enough to fill a 9x13 inch baking dish halfway.

Be sure not only fully thaw the cauliflower, but to dry it. After thawing, I lay mine out on a clean towel to ensure it's fully thawed and dry. This way, it won't turn out watery.

You can use fresh cauliflower, I would just partially cook it first. Depending how you like your cauliflower. I like mine on the softer side.

You'll need:
bag of cauliflower, thawed and well drained
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup hot milk
1 cup heavy cream (can be omitted and just use all milk), hot
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
kosher salt & pepper to taste
12 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided in half
2 heaping  Tablespoons sour cream

For the topping:
2 cups coarse bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons soft butter
remaining  grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon parsley
pinch kosher salt
pinch pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fill greased (or cooking spray) 9x13 inch baking dish half full of thawed, well drained cauliflower. Se  aside.

In a small saucepan, gently warm up milk and cream until hot, being careful not to burn the milk.

Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over low heat and cook onion in it until onion begins to turn translucent,  5-7 minutes.

Add flour, whisk until all the butter is absorbed. Continue to whisk and cook over low heat about 2-3 minutes.

Slowly whisk in hot milk and cream in about 3 batches, whisking until smooth before each batch addition.

Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened and  the floury taste is cooked out.

Add cheeses and stir until  smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 2 fat Tablespoons of sour cream.
Taste again for salt and pepper, keeping in mind the bread crumb topping will have parmesan and  salt in in too.

Pour cheese  sauce over cauliflower.

Add topping ingredients to bread crumbs and stir until butter is incorporated well into the crumbs.

Spread topping evenly over cauliflower. Sprinkle with parsley.

Bake, uncovered, at 350, for about 30-40  minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Makes a great  next day casserole with ham added to it!

One of my  favorite  things to make with this is Butter-Thyme chicken breasts.

This is for 4 large bone-in chicken breasts.
Mix 1/2 teaspoon of crushed thyme, 1/4 garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper, with 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Gently   stick your finger up under the chicken breast skins and separate along the length  of the breast, keeping the sides of the skin intact with the breast. 
Divide the seasoned  butter  between the chicken,  and spread very well under the skins, and on top of the skins. Smear the butter around well, but with most of  it under the skin in thick layers. Sprinkle chicken  with a little more pepper, and salt, if desired.

Place on foil lined baking sheet sprayed  with cooking oil, and bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes, rotating pan about  halfway through cooking. Cook  until meat thermometer reads 165 and juices run clear.
Cover loosely with foil and let stand about 10 minutes before slicing.

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