Cauliflower cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and this recipe from the brilliant British cooking duo The Hairy Bikers puts a flavorful twist on the classic dish. Their secret ingredient – infusing the milk with aromatic bay leaves, mace, and peppercorns – adds incredible depth and enhances the creamy sauce. Topped with crunchy bacon and spicy jalapeños, this cauliflower cheese is irresistible.
In this post, I’ll walk you through how to make this easy yet impressive baked cauliflower cheese step-by-step. You’ll learn pro tips for perfecting the texture and flavor at every stage, from cooking the cauliflower florets just right to creating a smooth, rich cheese sauce. I’ll also share serving suggestions, storage instructions, and reheating methods. This recipe is sure to become a new family favorite comfort food.
So grab your aprons and let’s get cooking!
What is Hairy Biker Cauliflower Cheese?
Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese is a delicious and easy recipe for a classic British dish that consists of cooked cauliflower florets covered with a creamy cheese sauce and baked until golden and bubbly. It’s a dish that originated in England and is often served as a side dish for roast meat, especially roast beef. The name Hairy Biker comes from the famous British duo who created this recipe, the Hairy Bikers, who are known for their travel and cooking shows.
Why You Love this Recipe
There are many reasons to love this recipe, but here are some of the main ones:
- It’s simple and easy to make, with only a few ingredients and steps.
- It’s rich and comforting, perfect for a cold day or a cozy night.
- It’s flavorful and satisfying, with a cheese sauce that has a hint of spice and a crunchy and spicy topping of bacon and jalapeños.
- It’s versatile and adaptable, as you can use different cheeses, spices, or toppings to suit your taste and preferences.
- It’s vegetarian-friendly if you omit the bacon and use vegetarian cheese.
Ingredients Needed to Make Hairy Biker Cauliflower Cheese
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
- 500 ml whole milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 mace blade
- a few peppercorns
- 30 g butter
- 30 g plain flour
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 100 g cheddar or gruyère cheese, grated
- sea salt and white pepper
- 4 slices of bacon or lardons, chopped (optional)
- 2-3 jalapeño peppers, sliced (optional)
Instructions to Make Hairy Biker Cauliflower Cheese
Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Preheat the oven and cook the cauliflower
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower florets. Cook them for about 4 minutes, or until they are tender but not mushy. Drain them well and transfer them to a large ovenproof dish. Spread them evenly and set aside.
Step 2: Make the cheese sauce
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the bay leaves, mace, and peppercorns. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the milk almost to a boil. Then, remove the pan from the heat and let the milk infuse for a while, or until you’re ready to make the sauce.
- In another saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper and whisk until you have a smooth roux. Cook it for a minute or two, stirring constantly, to cook off the raw flour taste.
- Strain the milk into a measuring jug and discard the spices. Gradually add the milk to the roux, whisking well after each addition to avoid any lumps. As the sauce loosens, you can add the milk in larger quantities, but keep whisking until you have a smooth and creamy sauce.
- Add 75 g of the cheese and stir until it melts. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add more mustard or cayenne if you like it spicier.
Step 3: Assemble and bake the dish
Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and make sure it covers all the florets. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. If you’re using bacon and jalapeños, scatter them over the cheese. Bake the dish for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.
Step 4: Enjoy your Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese
- Take the dish out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese with some roast chicken, bread, salad, or whatever you fancy. It’s a hearty and delicious dish that will warm you up and make you happy.
What Do I Serve With Hairy Biker Cauliflower Cheese?
Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese is a dish that can be served as a main course or a side dish, depending on your appetite and occasion.
Here are some suggestions for what to serve with it:
- As a main course, you can serve it with some crusty bread and a green salad, or some roasted vegetables and a grain of your choice, such as rice, quinoa, or couscous.
- As a side dish, you can serve it with any roast meat, such as chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef, or some grilled or baked fish, such as salmon, cod, or trout.
- As a leftover, you can reheat it and enjoy it as it is, or use it to make a sandwich, a wrap, or a quesadilla.
Pro Tips to Make Hairy Biker Cauliflower Cheese
To make the best Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese, here are some pro tips to follow:
- Don’t overcook the cauliflower, as you want it to have some bite and texture, not to be mushy and soggy.
- Infuse the milk with bay leaves, mace, and peppercorns, as this will add a subtle aroma and flavor to the cheese sauce.
- Whisk the roux and the milk well, to avoid any lumps and to make a smooth and creamy sauce.
- Use a good quality cheese, preferably cheddar or gruyère, as this will make a difference in the taste and texture of the sauce. You can also mix different cheeses, such as parmesan, mozzarella, or blue cheese, for more variety and complexity.
- Season the sauce well, with salt, pepper, mustard, and cayenne, to give it some depth and kick. You can also add some nutmeg, garlic, or onion powder, for more flavor.
- Add some bacon and jalapeños, if you like some crunch and spice, or omit them, if you prefer a milder and simpler dish.
How do I store Hairy Biker Cauliflower Cheese Leftovers?
If you have any leftovers of Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure to let the dish cool completely before storing it, and label and date the container.
How do I reheat Hairy Biker Cauliflower Cheese Leftovers?
To reheat Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese leftovers, you can either use the oven or the microwave, depending on your preference and convenience.
Here are the steps to follow for each method:
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 3. Transfer the leftovers to an ovenproof dish and cover it with foil. Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s hot and bubbly. You can also sprinkle some extra cheese on top if you like.
- Microwave: Transfer the leftovers to a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid or a damp paper towel. Microwave it for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it’s hot and bubbly. Stir it halfway through and check the temperature. You can also sprinkle some extra cheese on top if you like.
Other Hairy Bikers Recipes to Try:
What type of cheese works best for this recipe?
The original recipe calls for cheddar or Gruyère, but you can use any good melting cheese like Gouda, Edam, or Fontina. The key is to use a cheese that becomes smooth and creamy when melted.
Can I make this recipe in advance?
Yes, you can assemble the entire casserole ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking. You can also completely cook it, let it cool, and then reheat it later.
Is this recipe vegetarian or can it be made vegetarian?
The recipe is vegetarian if you omit the bacon topping. You can also use vegetarian cheeses and ingredients to make it completely vegetarian.
What can I serve with the Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese?
It makes a great side dish for roast chicken or beef. You can also serve it with a nice salad or some crusty bread for a complete meal.
How do I know when the cauliflower is cooked enough?
The cauliflower should be tender but still have some bite, not mushy. Cook it for 3-5 minutes until just fork tender. Overcooking will make it soft and soggy.
I hope you enjoyed this Hairy Biker cauliflower cheese recipe and learned how to make it at home. It’s a simple but satisfying dish that will impress your family and friends. It’s also a great way to use up any leftover cauliflower or cheese you have in the fridge. You can customize it with different cheeses, spices, or toppings to suit your taste. It’s a dish that you can make all year round, and it will never get boring.
If you liked this recipe, please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you and know what you think of this dish. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask me. I’m always happy to help.
Can I substitute different spices for the bay leaf and mace?
Yes, you can customize the flavor with any herbs or spices you like. Try thyme, rosemary, garlic, paprika, cumin, or curry powder. Just infuse them into the milk.
How long will the leftovers keep in the fridge or freezer?
Properly stored leftovers will last 3-4 days refrigerated and 2-3 months in the freezer. Let thaw before reheating.