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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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!)
  4. 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.

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