Bon Appétit (November 2011)
We're always up for a dose of different.
And in perusing the November issues of the food magazines, this Crispy Cauliflower with Capers, Raisins and Breadcrumbs stuck out as being very different. Capers and raisins? Plus some anchovy paste, too?
We were certain this was going to be unlike any cauliflower we've ever tried, with big, bold flavors.
Turns out, that isn't the case. There's something amiss with this dish.
The biggest problem we found with this recipe is that in the end, it doesn't have much flavor. We were expecting a flavor explosion between the sweetness of the raisins and brininess of the capers. Not to mention the fact that the raisins are plumped in anchovy paste and chicken broth. Mix raisins and anchovy paste, and, well, you expect some pretty out-there flavors. But once they were tossed with the cauliflower and breadcrumbs, we could barely taste either of these main components.
We made one change in this recipe that didn't help. In an effort to save a bit of time and oven space during a day of frantic cooking, at the last minute we opted to use store-bought breadcrumbs from Whole Foods, rather than making fresh breadcrumbs ourselves. We don't expect that the taste of the finished product would be much different, but do we think fresh breadcrumbs would have given a better overall texture to the cauliflower. Our store-brought breadcrumbs were very fine, coating the entire dish in a layer of powdery, sandy, dry breadcrumbs.
Let us be clear: It's not that this is a bad dish. It's just disappointing.
If we attempt this again, we would pull a Barefoot Contessa and "turn up the volume" by doubling the amount of garlic, capers, anchovy paste, parsley, raisins and vinegar. And of course we'd use fresh breadcrumbs, as the recipe suggests.
And if those steps still don't help, well, we've got a bigger problem on our hands.
Makes 8–10 servings
- 1 large head of cauliflower (2 pounds), cut into 2” florets
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, soaked, rinsed, patted dry
- 3/4 cup fresh coarse breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 425°. Toss cauliflower florets with 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl; season mixture with salt and pepper. Divide cauliflower mixture between 2 large rimmed baking sheets, spreading out in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until cauliflower is golden and crispy, about 45 minutes. DO AHEAD: Cauliflower can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Reheat before using.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden, 5–6 minutes. Add capers and cook until they start to pop, about 3 minutes longer. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are golden, 2–3 minutes; transfer breadcrumb mixture to a plate and set aside.
- Add chicken broth and anchovy paste (if using) to same saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add golden raisins and white wine vinegar and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Do ahead: Breadcrumb and raisin mixtures can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm raisin mixture mixture before continuing.
- Transfer warm cauliflower to a serving bowl. Scatter raisin mixture over, then toss to distribute evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cauliflower with breadcrumb mixture and parsley.