Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cauliflower of the Leisured Classes

This damn cauliflower took forever. And it was ugly.

I found it on In Praise of Sardines, and I was charmed by the plea to "be like Julia Roberts in the early nineties. Allow this Lyle Lovett to serenade your tongue." And, to be fair, there was truth-in-advertising; the recipe was labeled "Slow-Roasted Cauliflower with Pounded Anchovies" and the post itself was titled "Least popular recipe ever."

I am not a lookist when it comes to food, really I'm not. Nor do I discriminate against cauliflower, or tiny fishes of any kind--I embrace all foodstuffs. The reason this recipes is deservedly unpopular is because it required an hour and a half of cauliflower roasting with fussing and turning every ten minutes. Keep in mind that you're talking to the woman who rolled 140 meatballs for lunch this week. I am not against fiddly cooking. But this was too much. Everyone in the house grew intensely irritated at the constant beeping of the oven timer. And, though the recipe said it would only take an hour, it really was an hour and a half before the cauliflower was done.

The final result was pretty good--the toasted breadcrumbs were a nice addition and the anchovy and lemon gave it a nice kick. So, if you happen to be independently wealthy, or retired, or on vacation, go for it. Otherwise, just make aloo gobi.

Agonizingly Slow-Roasted Cauliflower with Anchovy Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the green leaves from:
1 large head of cauliflower

Slice the cauliflower "like a load of bread" by placing it stem-side down and cutting through all the layers to produce 3/4 inch slices. Coat the slices with:
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
lots of sea salt

Spread out the cauliflower on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for at least 1 hour (I needed an hour and a half), turning every 10 minutes. You can finally stop the endless cycle of turning and baking when the cauliflower is very brown and falling-apart tender. Sardines reminds us that the smaller bits may get dark brown and crunchy. Don't toss the burned bits "they are the best parts."

While the cauliflower is roasting, get out a small baking pan, and tear up:
1 slice of bread, without crusts

Toss with:
2 teaspoons olive oil
a bit of sea salt

Add the bread pan to the oven about 10-15 minutes before the cauliflower is done.

For the anchovy sauce, see the original recipe for directions on making a fancy sauce with a mortar and pestle. I just minced:
1/2 clove of garlic
2 anchovy fillets
, packed in oil for preference

1-3 teaspoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil

I mashed everything with a fork and then left it sitting in the warm kitchen to let the flavors seep together.

Finally, assemble the whole mess by dumping the cauliflower in a bowl, drizzle on the anchovy sauce, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and chopped parsley, and eat.

Then climb into the hot tub and stare out at the ocean to recover from the annoyance of preparing this dish.


Gini said...

I did make the same recipe and loved it!
I didnt really mind the time factor!

Cedwards said...

Here's the fix for time if you actually liked the recipe (I did not, either the highly annoying flippy way or my fix.) It improved with a reduction in the amount of salt (because, you know, we don't get nearly enough sodium in our diets!!) but I'm not going to give up my Ghee-baked cauliflower for it.

The ingredients are the same for the fixed recipe, but you start the oven at 275. Slice the cauliflower and drizzle with oil, then place in oven for 45 minutes to cook through. After 45 minutes, turn up the temp to 450 (or use the broiler) to carmelize the cauliflower, turning once. Turn off the oven, use residual heat to toast the crumbs, warm the sauce and etc.

52 minutes, from the moment the cauliflower hits the oven.