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Broccoli & Cheddar Gratin - Cook's Illustrated


Broccoli and Cheddar Gratin
November 2007
Poorly made broccoli gratin is a gruesome merger of floury sauce and mealy broccoli sitting under a damp carpet of bread crumbs. Here is our take on how to do it right.

Preparing Broccoli

1. Place the head of the broccoli upside down on the cutting board and use a large knife to trim off the florets very close to their heads. Cut the florets into 1-inch pieces.

2. Stand each stalk up on the cutting board and square it off with a large knife. This will remove the outer 1/8 inch from the stalk, which is quite tough. Now cut the stalk in half lengthwise.

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  • Serves 6. Published November 1, 2007.
  • Bread Crumb Topping
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread , each slice torn into quarters (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Filling
  • 1 tablespoon table salt plus an additional 1/4 teaspoon
  • 2 pounds broccoli (about 1 large bunch), florets trimmed to 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and chopped medium
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Pinch fresh ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)


Servings 6


Step 1

Serves 6. Published November 1, 2007.

1. For the topping: Pulse bread, butter, salt, and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses; set aside.

2. For the filling: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and broccoli; cook until exterior is tender but interior is still slightly crunchy, about 3 minutes. Drain broccoli in colander; leave in colander while preparing sauce.

3. Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat; when foam subsides, add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; stir in flour until combined, about 1 minute. Whisk in cream and broth; bring to boil. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, thyme, and two-thirds cheese until incorporated. Off heat, gently stir in broccoli until evenly combined. Transfer mixture to 11- by 7-inch (2-quart) gratin dish. Sprinkle remaining one-third cheese evenly over surface, then sprinkle evenly with bread crumb topping. Bake until golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.


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