Whole Roasted Cauliflower Two Ways
I have roasted whole cauliflower many times, but have not been satisfied with the outcome. Birba's whole roasted cauliflower is absolutely delicious so I picked our waiter's brain to try and figure out their secret. He gave me one important tip that makes total sense. They coat their cauliflower in mayonnaise before they roast it. This step is important as it is very easy to wind up with an undercooked interior and an overcooked exterior. Many people cringe at the thought of mayonnaise, but it is important to remember what goes into mayo; at its most basic mayonnaise is simply an emulsion of eggs and oil. Nothing creepy about that! Thomas Keller of the French Laundry makes his Thanksgiving Turkey with a heavy coating of mayonnaise before he roasts it. The mayo keeps the bird moist and tender. I incorporated this trick into our Spatchcocked Turkey recipe and have loved the outcome. The mayonnaise protects the outside of the turkey and it does the same for the outside of the cauliflower. Mayo allows you to slow cook the cauliflower in the oven and then finish with a hot broil without burning the outside.
Two Methods for Slow Cooking the CauliflowerThe cauliflower is slow cooked to achieve a tender inside then blasted under the broiler to get a nice finish. After much trial and error I have come up with two methods of slow cooking the cauliflower.
Method 1: Slow Cooked in the Oven
I start by slathering the cauliflower with mayo and seasoning it with salt, pepper and maybe some Spanish smoked paprika.
I slow roast the cauliflower at 300 degrees F for about an hour, although the time varies by the size of the cauliflower. This method works well, but did not achieve the consistently tender inside I was striving for. It is still very good and I think you will be happy with the results, but I discovered a method I like even more.
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Method 2: Sous VideTo really nail a tender inside I recommend cooking the cauliflower sous vide. This achieves an edge to edge consistently tender cauliflower with no hard spots.
You can sous vide whole cauliflower using a gallon plastic zip bag and the displacement method to remove the air from the bag, or better yet, if you are planning on exploring sous vide as a cooking method, I recommend investing in a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealers do a great job at eliminating the air and keeping the bag tightly sealed. I also recommend investing in some sous vide weights to keep the bags submerged. This is particularly important for vegetables like cauliflower that are not heavy enough to stay submerged.
Finishing the Whole Roasted CauliflowerWhether you slow roast in the oven or sous vide, this cauliflower is finished under the broiler and then garnished with a little good olive oil, parmesan shavings and capers. If you like this whole roasted cauliflower as much as my family does, I'm betting this will become a regular item in your recipe rotation.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower Two Ways
Yield 2 - 4 servings
Whole roasted cauliflower is dramatic and delicious. This recipe incorporates a secret technique that keeps the outside from burning. I also offer two ways to slow cook the cauliflower -- oven roasting and sous vide. You decide which you like best!
- 1 whole cauliflower, trimmed
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- Spanish smoked paprika (optional)
- Parmesan cheese, shaved
- 2 T capers
- Good olive oil
To oven roast:
- Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Trim the cauliflower to remove the leaves and stem so the cauliflower sits up straight.
- Coat the cauliflower with mayonnaise and season with salt, pepper and paprika (paprika is optional but provides good color and a smokey flavor).
- Roast in the oven for about an hour. Time will vary depending on the size of your cauliflower. Cauliflower is done when a bamboo skewer can be easily inserted all the way through the cauliflower.
To sous vide:
- Set up your sous vide water bath and turn on your circulator to 189 degrees F.
- Place the cauliflower in a plastic bag with a splash of olive oil. Add a sous vide weight or two to the bag. If you are using a ziplock bag, remove the air from the bag using the displacement bag. Alternatively you can use a vacuum sealer.
- When the water has come to temperature submerge the bag of cauliflower in the water. Sous vide for one hour.
- If you are not going to serve the cauliflower immediately, plunge the sealed bag into a bowl of ice water to bring the temperature down, remove and refrigerate until ready to use.
- If you are going to serve the cauliflower right away, remove the cauliflower from the bag and thoroughly dry. Coat with mayonnaise and season with salt, pepper and paprika (paprika is optional).
- Oven roasted and sous vide cauliflower are finished the same way. Turn on your broiler and place the cauliflower under the broiler for 7 to 8 minutes, watching carefully so it doesn't burn.
- Remove from the broiler, place on a serving platter and immediately garnish with parmesan shavings while the cauliflower is hot. Garnish with a good olive oil and capers.
Cuisine New American