Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I have said it before, and I will say it again: I grew up hating cauliflower. It was served to me boiled to death. Later, in grad school, I fell under the terrible rumor that white foods lacked nutrients and therefore should be passed over in favor of dark green foods. My entire relationship to cauliflower changed with this recipe. I am not over-stating the fact. Previously relegated to a poor-man's broccoli to be dipped into ranch dressing, it is not something to be featured and adored. This two-step, but simple, preparation technique was given to me by Jacques Pepin, quite possibly the one person you want around you to take away the scary nature of French food.

I mean, seriously -- can you get any simpler list of ingredients than this?

Cauliflower (Chou-fleur)
Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques

1 head cauliflower

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Drop florets into a large pot of boiling, salted water and boil 10-12 minutes, until stem can be pierced with point of a knife. Immediately place the whole pot under cold, running water to stop the cooking.

To cook cauliflower, place the cooked florets, head side down, in foaming butter in a cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to medium heat and cook for a few minutes, until the florets are nicely browned. Turn each piece on the other side and brown for a few minutes more. Season and serve.

Pepin's original recipe uses the verb "saute" -- as in, to saute the cauliflower, do the following. I think it's important to note that this is not actually sauteeing -- it's more like braising. You don't want to stir the cauliflower, like you would with a saute. Instead, you want to let it sit on the pan, browning. Once browned on one side, turn and brown the other side.

In the second photo, my cauliflower did not brown quite so nicely this time. I had recently cooked something in this cast-iron skillet that was leaving a yellow stain on the cauliflower. But, you can see where the cauliflower was beginning to brown in spots.

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