Monday, October 6, 2014

Meaty Monday: Whole Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Sage & Capers

What was left of the cauliflower after the photo shoot...
A lot of things changed last spring when Chuck died, and I simply lost my cooking mojo. It is coming back, bit by bit, and I think some of it has been rekindled by the lovely vegetables and meat I've found in my CSA shares. Life has a habit of going on. Luckily. On Friday afternoon, I had just finished shooting this cauliflower dish when my pal John wanders into the kitchen and says, "What's THAT???! It smells wonderful." Those pictures didn't turn out as well as I'd have liked, but this shot of it after the two of us had a go at the cauliflower right on the platter says it all. The cauliflower is tender, but just holds together until you collapse with a fork it into the rich, toasty brown butter sauce.

Even though today is usually Meaty Monday around here, you need a few good, fast side dishes to go along with the meat. More than a few.  Especially if you eat Primal / Paleo as I do. The uninformed think it is a meat-centric diet; actually it isn't, it's mostly vegetables with moderate portions of high quality animal protein a time or two a day. I generally aim for two cups of cooked vegetables (or the equivalent raw) at each meal, including breakfast.  Just no grain, legumes or processed sugar, although I avoid any kind sugar most of the time.

There has been an absolutely beautiful cauliflower recipe circulating the 'net for the last few years with a whole roasted cauliflower and sauce. The cauliflower roasts for about 1-1/2 hours. Gorgeous, but who, on a work night, really has time to roast anything for that long? I don't.  Can't speak for you, though.  In my  CSA box this week from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative is a lovely, locally grown cauliflower, and it deserves to be shown off. This is the way to do it. The absolutely fastest way to cook a whole, intact, cauliflower is in a pressure cooker. It cooks in 6 minutes flat, and brown butter, one of those delicious but fussy sauces can be making itself in 5 minutes in your microwave with no watching on your part. And you pop the butter in the micro while the cauliflower cooks. Instant dish. Spectacular. Lick the plate good.

This really isn't a recipe. More of a technique following a list of ingredients. If you are Primal / Paleo, use pastured butter.  Set out all your ingredients, and have the sage cut and the lemon squeezed before you so much as touch the pot. This is vegetarian, Paleo, Primal, gluten free, and utterly delicious.

Please use a pressure cooker of 5 quarts or larger with a rack or basket in it and always, always, follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter.

Evidently I can still cook, but the photo skills are rusty.

Whole Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Sage & Capers 

From start to finish, this takes perhaps 15 minutes , and most of that time is hands-off, so you can multitask and make some sautéed salmon or pan-grill some steak while it is all cooking.

1  2 lb. whole cauliflower, leaves removed and stem trimmed flush
2 oz. unsalted butter
Juice from 1/2 lemon
6-8 fresh sage leaves, slivered
2T capers, drained
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Place 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water in the pressure cooker. Set the rack or basket inside, and set the cauliflower on the rack. Close the lid and seal according to the manufacturer's instructions. Bring to high pressure over high heat. While it heats, place the butter in a deep microwave safe bowl ( I use a 2-cup heatproof glass measuring cup), and cover with waxed paper or parchment, large enough to tuck under the bowl to contain any splatters.

2. When the pressure cooker reaches high pressure, reduce the heat to maintain high pressure for 6 minutes, and cook the butter in the microwave for 4 minutes on high. If the butter isn't brown enough, give it another minute. Remove the bowl carefully from the microwave and set aside.

3. When the cauliflower has cooked for 6 minutes, release the pressure quickly, using the vent carefully (see your manufacturer's instructions for details). When the pressure is down, open the unit away from your face to keep the steam away and carefully lift the whole cauliflower out using two big cooking spoons, or a big cooking spider. Place it on a an attractive platter.

4. Stir the sage into the hot brown butter, followed by the lemon juice and capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and then pour over the cauliflower and serve.

Serves 2 to 4 depending on how greedy you are about brown butter.

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