Today I brought the ingredients to make Simply in Season’s Broccoli Gratin to my mom’s house for Sunday dinner. Imagine my surprise to arrive and discover that her main dish was very similar to this – she was making a broccoli/chicken bake. I decided to go ahead and make my side dish so that we could compare the two.
For my version:
5-6 C broccoli or cauliflower (I used broccoli). Steam until just crisp-tender and set aside. I did this in the microwave.
Thinly slice an onion and mince a clove of garlic, and saute’ in a small saucepan until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Then, sprinkle 1/4 C f lour on the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes (you’ll want to stir constantly to keep from browning). Whisk in 2 C of milk and bring to a boil. Add in 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and a pinch each of nutmeg and ground red pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in 1 C shredded cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Combine with broccoli and put everything in a 2 qt casserole dish.
Combine 1 C bread crumbs, 1 T butter, 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, and 1 T dried parsley and sprinkle on top of the broccoli mixture. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until heated through.
The verdict: While everyone liked this version, some felt that my mom’s was creamier. She had used canned cream of chicken soup. Some did like my fresh topping better than her Stove Top topping, though. This led to an interesting discussion. Is it any cheaper to make things like cream of soup? Is it really any healthier? My sister thought that making the cream sauce from scratch was too much work, but I didn’t really mind it. One of the benefits I saw to making things from scratch is that I don’t have to keep things like Stove Top or canned cream of soups on hand. I’m sure that as I continue this project I’ll form more of an opinion. What’s yours?