Monday, March 2, 2015

Beer Cheese Cauliflower

This winter we've been eating a lot of cauliflower. A few weeks ago, we tried this version, from Joy the Baker: Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Beer Cheddar Sauce.
This is a lot of work! A lot of steps and ingredients and time. The first step is to cook the cauliflower in boiling water seasoned with a lot of stuff: bay leaves, lemons, red pepper flakes, salt, peppercorns, olive oil, butter, sugar. It boils for about 15 minutes, until a knife can easily slice into it.
Drain the cauliflower and place it in a pie plate. You could use a casserole dish, but Joy the Baker used/suggested a pie plate, so that what we used.
Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Then roast for 30 minutes. After that, broil it 3-5 minutes to get it extra brown.
Meanwhile make the beer & cheese sauce.
When both the cauliflower & sauce are ready, pour the cheese sauce around the cauliflower and serve.
Overall, this is a great idea: roasted cauliflower with beer-cheese sauce. But for me, it was way too spicy. We used the full 2 tsp of red pepper flakes even though I do not usually like hot/spicy. We figured it was just in the boiling water, not in the cheese sauce, so most would just drain off, right? Wrong. We failed to account for the fact that the red pepper flakes, as well as the peppercorns, would be swished throughout the water and consequently throughout all the nooks and crannies of the cauliflower and then become stuck in the nooks and crannies. They did not just wash out when we took the cauliflower out of the boiling water.
I couldn't even taste the flavor of the beer-cheese-mustard-Worcestershire sauce because there was way too much heat in the cauliflower for me. I couldn't eat this. This is why I hate hot/spicy foods: there is no discernible flavor, just burning heat and gasping and chugging of water. SP swears he could taste the beer-cheese flavor along with the heat, but personally, I think he long ago burned all his taste buds off.
I scooped some uncontaminated sauce from the pie plate to try it and it was delicious. I would definitely make the sauce again, maybe for alongside some plain roasted cauliflower (just roasted, not boiled and roasted), or with some bread, or with soft pretzels. But I wouldn't boil the cauliflower with red pepper flakes and peppercorns. Even though SP loves the spiciness, he got a bit annoyed picking out the peppercorns that got lodged in the nooks and crannies since the bite of whole peppercorn was a bit much for him.

In the future, we'll simply roast the cauliflower and serve it alongside the sauce. If you like heat/spice and don't mind whole peppercorns and red pepper flakes wedged in the nooks and crannies of your cauliflower, then this is a terrific dish. But it does take a lot of time - definitely allow 1-1.5 hours.

Recipe here.

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