Broccoli Au Gratin

A very impressive, tasty starter for a large family meal.  It can be done ahead of time and heated at the last minute.
You will need:
- 2 kg of  beautifully green, fresh and firm broccoli boiled crisp, and drained. Cut into medium sized florets. If the broccoli is with its stalk, cut off, peel, then cut into two 5 cm long sticks.  The stalks must be boiled as well.
- 200 gms of thick bacon cut in small cubes.
- 150 gms of Cheddar, Gouda or Emmental (or a mixture of the three)
- 50 gms of fresh butter.
- 50 gms  flour.
- 1 liter of milk boiled and and kept hot.
- 1/2 liter heavy cream at room temperature.
- Salt, freshly grated pepper and nutmeg.
-  Preheat oven to maximum.
-  Butter a 5 cm deep by 35 cm by 30 cm rectangular oven proof dish.
-  Prepare the béchamel sauce using all the butter, the flour, the milk and the cream. The consistency should be fluid to heavy.
  •  Melt the butter. Add the flour and mix to make a roux. A roux is when you mix melted butter and flour and stir it until the flour cooks and gets a slightly off white color.
  • Start adding the milk slowly until the roux is dissolved and the mixture thickens without balling.
  • When all the milk has been added, add the cream. Stir to the desired consistency 
-  Fry the bacon in its own fat, until it is golden. Strain the fat. Put the bacon on absorbent kitchen paper.
-  Arrange the broccoli florets lying down beside each other in rows. One row could overlap over the other.
-  Sprinkle the bacon evenly.
-  Sprinkle the cheese evenly.
-  Spread the béchamel sauce evenly to fill dish. Put some pieces of butter on the surface.
-  Bake for 30 minutes or until the surface has taken a nice color.
Cool and serve.


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