“Cauliflower cheese” is a savoury English vegetable side dish made from cauliflower that has been lightly boiled or steamed, which is then put in a casserole dish and covered with cheese or a cheese sauce, often sprinkled with bread crumbs, and baked or grilled until the cheese is bubbling, then served hot.
Though some rate the dish as just an excuse to have buttered bread crumbs, that seems a good enough reason to most people, as this dish can be quite delicious.
One of the biggest complaints people have about making a cauliflower cheese is that it turned watery on them. And some people have memories of being served a watery, mooshy, cauliflower cheese for school lunches.
What causes a cauliflower cheese to go watery on you is overcooking it; as the cauliflower cooks, it breaks down and releases the water in it, which in turn causes your sauce — no matter how thick you made it — to go watery.
What you need to do is have your cauliflower (steamed or boiled, it really doesn’t matter much) hot, and your cheese sauce hot, then combine the two and pop under your broiler / grill, and grill it instead just until the sauce is bubbling. Don’t try baking it for a long period of time to try to dry off the water, as that makes it progressively worse.
Literature & Lore
“Lightly cook the cauliflower so it’s still got some bite. Drain, let it steam off a bit, then, while it’s still very hot, pour over a really good, hot, cheesy béchamel and flash it quickly under a scorching-hot grill until it’s bubbling and slightly blackened.” — Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cauliflower recipes. Manchester: The Guardian. 17 April 2010.