Now, I have to explain that I took option B in making this dish. Option A would have been to roast the whole head of cauliflower intact. Then, it would have been served in the cast iron skillet and portions would have been cut as wedges. It’s a lovely, old-school kind of preparation and presentation, but since I was just cooking for two, I went the simpler route. I cut the head of cauliflower into florets, and roasted them in the skillet with butter. Every ten minutes or so, I turned the cauliflower pieces and spooned melted, browned butter over the tops. The cauliflower pieces roasted for about 40 minutes total, and came out of the oven nicely golden. Meanwhile, I hard-cooked two eggs, chopped parsley, and toasted breadcrumbs in melted butter on top of the stove. To serve, I transferred cauliflower pieces to a platter, squeezed lemon juice over the top, added the toasted buttery breadcrumbs and chopped eggs, and garnished with parsley.
For me, this was a vegetarian main course. The buttery goodness was undeniable, but the crispy breadcrumbs, bright lemon, and rich chopped egg combined delightfully. My next stop in the book will either be the Duck Fat-Roasted Potatoes or the Roasted Pineapple with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce. The oven is going to get plenty of use this fall.
Roasted Cauliflower Polonaise
Recipes reprinted with publisher’s permission from Ruhlman's How to Roast. Copyright ©2014 by Ruhlman Enterprises, Inc. Courtesy Little, Brown and Company. The book is available at Barnes and Noble and IndieBound.
Boiled cauliflower with hard-cooked eggs, bread crumbs, and parsley? When I first learned this old preparation, in a culinary basics class at the CIA, I thought it was too goofy for words. But when I asked my cooking partner, Adam Shepard, what he thought of it, he said, “I’d serve it at my restaurant. Though I’d figure out a way to make the egg and bread crumbs stick to the cauliflower.” That he took it seriously made me take it seriously. As my appreciation of classic dishes grew, so too did my affection for this dish. Prepare it with roasted cauliflower rather than boiled, and it becomes a great dish for any occasion.
1 head cauliflower (whole or cut into florets), roasted
1/4 cup/20 grams panko bread crumbs
1 or 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• PLACE the hot roasted cauliflower on a serving platter. If there is no remaining butter in the skillet, add another tablespoon. Add the bread crumbs to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat till they’re toasted.
• SQUEEZE the lemon over the cauliflower and then spoon the toasted bread crumbs over the cauliflower. Spoon the chopped egg over the cauliflower (don’t worry if it doesn’t stick). Sprinkle it with parsley and serve in wedges or slices, scooping up extra garnish as you do so.
• If you’re using roasted florets, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a separate small skillet over medium-high heat and toast the bread crumbs. To serve, simply sprinkle the lemon juice, toasted bread crumbs, chopped egg, and parsley uniformly over the top of the florets and serve right from the skillet.
Basic Roasted Cauliflower
6 tablespoons/90 grams butter, at room temperature
1 head cauliflower
• PREHEAT the oven to 425˚F/220˚C (use convection if you have it).
• Cut the stem and leaves off the cauliflower so that it will sit flat in a skillet; the more of the cauliflower that’s in contact with the skillet the better, as it gets very brown and tasty.
• Set the cauliflower in an ovenproof skillet and smear the butter all over the surface. Give it a liberal sprinkling of salt.
• Roast till tender (a long knife should slide easily down into the cauliflower all the way through to its stem), 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Several times while it’s roasting, baste it with the butter, which will have melted and started to brown. (If you’re roasting a cut-up cauliflower, simply put the florets and butter in the skillet and put it in the oven. After 5 or 10 minutes, stir and toss the cauliflower to coat the florets with the melted butter, and then continue roasting and basting till tender, 30 to 40
• Serve immediately, in wedges or slices, or keep warm and reheat for a few minutes in a hot oven before serving.
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