The key here, I think, is to use a nice sharp cheddar. In this way, instead of blanketing and muffling the broccoli and apple, the cheese sauce adds a layer of contrast. There’s simply nothing like a good mature cheddar, the crumble and smoothness, the pungent nuttiness with a faint tang of grass. It’s good stuff, and it does the other members of the gratin nothing but favours.
Broccoli Cheddar and Apple Gratin (serves 4-6)
- about 2 lbs. of broccoli, washed and cut into florets (remove the stems and save them to shred and add to salad, or something of the sort)
- 1 large or 2 small apples, washed, cored, and cut into matchsticks
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 2 Tbs. flour
- 1 cup milk (preferably whole)
- about 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Put the broccoli in a large pot with about 1 inch of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and cook until the broccoli has just turned bright green, about 5 minutes.
- Lightly grease the bottom of a large baking dish or gratin pan, then add the broccoli and the apple pieces, and toss with a couple of pinches of salt.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter of medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, to keep the flour from tasting raw. Then, whisking vigorously the whole time, add the milk bit by bit until it is all smoothly incorporated. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Now, stir in the cheese. (Goopy melty, wow!)
- Pour the cheese mixture over the broccoli and apple. Bake in the oven until bubbly and starting to brown in spots, about 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.