Fine Cooking (October/November 2010)
"Sformato" is this year's "spatchcock." It's the Thanksgiving word we've become obsessed with.
We love saying it. Just try it. Sfor-mato! SFOR-mato! Sfor-MATO! Super fun, right?
Well guess what? It's not only fun to say, it's also delicious.
Because Cauliflower Sformato was far and away the favorite dish of all 16-plus recipes we made for our Fakesgiving meal.
First, what's a sformato?
It's an Italian souffle. We'd characterize it as being a more dense version of a souffle, much more similar to creamed corn pudding.
This recipe isn't a quick, throw-together affair. The cauliflower is first roasted in a hot oven, then half of it is pureed, and everything is mixed together with a roux, eggs and olive oil. That mixture then bakes in the oven until golden brown and set.
On the plus side, the dish can be made the day prior and refrigerated overnight. That's what we did, and simply popped it back into the oven the next day to bring it back up to temperature.
The result is truly a showstopper. It's both light and rich, and the cauliflower seemingly melted into the dish. We think this would be a great alternative to mashed potatoes at your Thanksgiving dinner.
Plus, you can say "sformato" over and over and over again when guests rave about it.
Serves six to eight.
1 small cauliflower (about 2 lb.)
2 Tbs. olive oil; more for the gratin dish
1-3/4 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2/3 cup grated on the small holes of a box grater)
3-3/4 cups whole milk
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
Core the cauliflower and separate it into florets. Cut the florets into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Put the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Spread in an even layer, season with 1/2 tsp. salt, and roast until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool.
Raise the oven temperature to 400°F. Brush an 8x10-inch (2-quart) gratin dish with olive oil and evenly coat with about half of the Parmigiano. Set aside.
Heat the milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until just about to boil.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns light golden, 2 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring just to a boil and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to develop the flavor. Transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and extra-virgin olive oil. Roughly chop 1/2 cup of the cauliflower, and purée the rest in a food processor. Stir the chopped cauliflower, cauliflower purée, egg mixture, and the remaining Parmigiano into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared gratin dish and bake until the sformato is just set and browned around the edges, about 30 minutes. It should jiggle just a little when you remove it from the oven. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.