Thursday, June 15, 2017

Heaven, charred



     I can't remember a trip that settled as gently into memory as our April trek through Italy and France. The cities—Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris. The museums. The streets.
     And of course the food. While we ate at some fancy places—particular Astrance in Paris, one of the 50 best restaurants in the world, and enjoyed all sorts of exotic dishes, such as truffles, caviar, crepes, one surprising dish lingers as our hands-down favorite: a head of cauliflower.
    And the amazing thing is, I don't even like cauliflower.
    But we certainly liked this, served up the leaves charred on the outside, hot and moist and salty on the inside, fresh off the grill at Miznon, a packed restaurant in the Jewish quarter of Paris.
    That was our lunch. Cauliflower, artichokes and ... big eyes on my part ... broccoli.
    I'm writing this not in the hope that I can convey the savory joy of that vegetable. Nor because I really expect you to rush there and order it. But because we're tried to replicate it on our backyard grill and can't come close.  We assume you have to gently boil the cauliflower first. But we haven't achieved the tasty tenderness of Miznon. We should have quizzed them, but they were so busy, plus the language barrier.
     So ... readers ... any tips for grilling entire heads of cauliflower? We know it can be done to perfection. But how?

  

10 comments:

  1. Grilling, I don't know; and I couldn't find anything with with leaves. But I found 2 recipes for whole baked cauliflower. I love well-prepared cauliflower (not just boiled forever) so I may try these. This is going to be a long post:

    Baked Cauliflower

    1 head of Cauliflower
    Olive oil or Avocado oil
    Salt/pepper
    Butter or Ghee
    Parsley, chopped
    Cast Iron Skillet (or any oven safe pan)
    Foil
    Preheat your oven to 400º Fahrenheit.
    Trim the bottom of the cauliflower and remove all the leaves and the hard stem – but without breaking apart the cauliflower. Go ahead and give it a quick rinse, patting it to dry.
    Generously drizzle your oil on top. It’s the key to a perfectly roasted cauliflower head.
    Then add salt (and pepper if you wish… I’m just not really into pepper). Using your hands spread the oil and salt all around the cauliflower. We prefer using Pink Himalayan Salt, but any will do.
    Put it in an oven safe pan and cover it with foil, without leaving any gaps. Our favorite way to cook things is with cast iron skillets, but if you don’t have one, anything that you use in the oven will work.

    Cook in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes, depending on the size of your cauliflower.
    Check with a knife, if it slides in easily, then it’s cooked. 
    Remove foil and allow it to roast for an extra 5 to 10 minutes so it turns golden brown. Keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn, especially since cast iron continues to cook a bit even when not actively being heated.

    Melt 3 Tbsp of butter (clarified butter if doing whole30 or you can use melted ghee!) and mix in the parsley, then drizzle or brush it on the cauliflower while it’s still hot.

    Add extra salt if needed.








    Mustard Parmesan whole roasted cauliflower

    2 large heads cauliflower
    1 clove garlic, halved 
    1/4 cup olive oil 
    4 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
    1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped 
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan 
    Lemon wedges, for serving 

    Position an oven rack in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
    Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, then trim the stem flush with the bottom of the head so the cauliflower sits flat on the prepared baking sheet. Rub the outside of each head with the cut garlic.
    Whisk together the oil, 3 tablespoons mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl.
    Put the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and brush the entire outside and inside with the mustard-oil mixture. Roast the cauliflower until nicely charred and tender (a long skewer inserted in the center of the cauliflower should pass through easily), 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let rest for a few minutes.
    Meanwhile, combine the parsley and Parmesan in a small bowl. Brush the outside of the roasted cauliflower heads all over with the remaining 1 tablespoon mustard and generously sprinkle with the Parmesan mixture.
    Cut the cauliflower into thick wedges and serve on plates with a sprinkle of salt, lemon wedges and any extra Parmesan mixture.

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  2. Or just put olive oil all over it and seasonings before you grill and use a disposable pan on the grill rather than putting it on directly. Works for asparagus too or any veggie. It's all better when grilled.

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  3. try googling "Roasted brined whole cauliflower" - lots of recipes to get that internal saltiness you desire.

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  4. I asked my chef husband and this is what he does. Blanch the head in salt water until the greens are bright. Wrap in foil and put on a medium grill. Grill until fork tender, unwrap and finish grilling until charred. Brush with seasonings as desired. Hope that helps.

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  5. These recipes all sound great. I can't wait to try them out!

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  6. I think cauliflower and broccoli taste fine either raw or steamed, but that's just me.

    john

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  7. John, If it's steamed then I can only eat it with cheese sauce. ;)

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  8. I am going to try the cauliflower dish!
    Love the sun ceramic!

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  9. I believe this is the Cauliflower recipe that took over the world. It's very simple. You'll find it at the end of the article: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/food/1.697196

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