Bacon and Roasted Cauliflower Cream Sauce

You know how it goes. You get this idea and it seems really great in your head but then somehow, it turns out oh so terribly wrong in real life. Like wearing toe socks. Or purchasing the slap chop.

I had this vision for a beautiful light cream sauce accented by golden cauliflower florets and crispy browned bits of bacon. It was going to be amazing. The inspiration came from a recipe out of the Company’s Coming Slow Cooker cookbook but I didn’t have any of the ingredients that that recipe called for, so I just made up my own.

That is where everything went wrong.

I rarely make cream sauces. In fact, I never make cream sauces. I can rock an oil based or tomato based pasta sauce like nobody’s business but milk and butter and flour is new territory. So why did I think that this would turn out amazing?

I roasted the cauliflower at 375F for an hour, turning them over after 30 minutes. Before putting them in the oven, I brushed the florets with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and cracked fresh pepper.  While the cauliflower was slowly caramelizing, I fried six slices of chopped bacon in a small frying pan and then placed them on a paper towel to soak up the excess fat. In a large non-stick frying pan, I melted 2 tbsp butter over medium heat and a tsp of the left over bacon fat. To this, I added two chopped leeks (thoroughly washed and rinsed) and 2 cloves of garlic diced.

At this point our house smelled divine.  All was going well. I added 2 tbsp of all purpose flour and let it brown for a couple of minutes.

That is when I discovered that we had less than a 1/4 cup of milk left. Milk was supposed to be the main liquid in this sauce! The flour, leek and garlic mixture sucked every ounce of milk and left a gooey dough. In a panic I ransacked the pantry for chicken stock. Nothing. In desperation I found a jar of evaporated skim milk but it expired in 2009 (I was going to use it anyways, until I opened it up and realized that it had been rotten for a very long time. Oh my.). So I kept adding cup after cup of water. In response the flour mixture just kept expanding.

At this time the baby was bawling, my hair was frazzled, and my husband was confused. I shouted at him to make me some chicken oxo, thinking he knew how to do that. He didn’t. I added that cup of whatever it was into the mix anyways, along with the cauliflower and bacon.

The sauce never thinned out, it only expanded.  Getting bigger and bigger and more gross looking.

It was like this sauce had a mind of its own and was going to reach up and slap me in the face. So I threw some shredded cheese at it and stabbed it with my wooden spoon.

Defeated, I took the sauce off the burner and added it to my pasta. I only had speghettini which was a terrible choice. The sauce was too heavy and thick for such a delicate noodle. It ended up looking like runny scrambled eggs.

Guys, this was the Jabba the Hut of pasta dishes. To dress it up, I garnished it with chopped fresh parlsey. But like putting a french beret on Jabba, no one was fooled. It was still a hot mess with a bit of parsley.

Thank goodness my husband will eat ANYTHING I place in front of him. He even took the left overs to work the next day. Next time, if there is a next time, I will follow a recipe when making a cream sauce.

And on that note, what’s your go-to cream sauce recipe?

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9 Comments on “Bacon and Roasted Cauliflower Cream Sauce”

  1. Rosemarie Storm says:

    Lindsay:

    Although I’m not a cream sauce type of person (so can’t help with a favorite recipe) I really enjoyed your humorous account of your experience. Kudos to you for not giving up. I would have thrown the whole thing down my garburator (sp?).

  2. Catherine says:

    Oh cream sauce…. I have a super easy recipe that calls for cream (which you can substitute milk) a little flour (which you can substitute half corn starch) and white wine ( substitute chicken stock) and butter, or margarine.
    Make a roux, add your milk/cream and thicken, then add enough of whatever other liquid you choose or have around until it is the desired consistancy.
    This is a perfect recipe to add whatever herbs/ seasoning you choose because it is so basic. I think the key is the roux. Use enough butter and flour for how much sauce you want to make because adding more later results in lumpy gooey terribleness that you will still serve, but be sad you did.

  3. Tami Scott Gartner says:

    Oh Lindsay…a cream sauce is just like making a rue. You need to take stock of your pantry before forging ahead with a meal. Make sure you have the ingredients so you don’t get into these sticky situations! This is just a tip. That’s all. Otherwise up to the point of the cream sauce I agree it sounded amazing. You must give it another try as I’m sure you will get it right.

  4. Auntie D says:

    What a joy to read about your culinary adventures. I may enjoy the ones that don’t turn out more than those that do!

  5. heather says:

    oh girl… my heart goes out to you! trudge on tho… Catherine’s recipe is pretty standard and I use a similar version all the time. I often add Parmesan/asiago cheese as well.

  6. Jason says:

    Jabba the Hutt in a french beret? Personally when I think large gooey, ever expanding mess in a beret, I think the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man, and knowing your husband, I’m a little surprised you didn’t also. Other than that minor quibble, good blog from a first time reader.

    Oh, and when I find I don’t have enough milk to make a sauce, I make my own by mixing a bunch of butter or margerine and some water in a glass, and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet. But then again I usually do that with Kraft Dinner, or on rare special occasions, a Lipton Sidekick. You know, the kind of thing with directions on the package, or as I call it, a recipe.

    • Lindsay says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog! And thanks for the comment! Yes, how silly of me to not think of Stay Puft, especially since his likeness in piggy bank form was staring at me while I wrote the post. Also, thanks for the culinary tip on how to make my own milk with margarine. Will keep that in mind for the inevitable next time….. 🙂


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