Alon Shaya perfected roasted whole heads of cauliflower when he spent as much time preparing the water to boil it in as he did actually roasting it. Inspired by his cult recipe, this preparation cuts back on the fiery chili pepper and pairs it with a nutty brown butter and chopped toasted hazelnuts. The cauliflower may be boiled a day in advance and refrigerated, making it the perfect Thanksgiving feast side dish (although it may be necessary to make 4 of them for this occasion. Limb by limb, it disappears as the heady nutty buttery scent causes forks and knives to dig in before it even hits the table).
Ingredients for the Cauliflower
For the Hazelnut Brown Butter
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
- In a 4 QUART COCOTTE, bring the wine, oil, salt, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of butter, pepper flakes, sugar, bay leaf, and 8 cups of cold water to a boil.
- Lower the cauliflower into the boiling water, reduce the heat to a simmer and turn the cauliflower occasionally until a knife easily pierces all the way to the center, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Use a mesh strainer to remove the cauliflower, drain well, and transfer the cauliflower to an oven to table BAKING DISH and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the baking dish and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is brown all over.
- In a SMALL SKILLET, warm 4 ounces butter until it is completely melted. Once the butter is melted, it will start to splutter and the butter will start to look yellow, not opaque. Begin stirring frequently. The butter will turn into a delicate light foam and the color will change from pale to very yellow. At this point, most of the water has been cooked off of the butter, and the milk solids remain floating around in the liquid. This color change happens right before browning, so stir the butter vigorously for about 1 minute. The color will change to a dark, deep yellow and will smell toasted. Remove from the heat and pour over the roasted head of cauliflower.
- Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts and parsley over and around the cauliflower and finish with the sea salt.
To toast hazelnuts: place nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Move nuts around frequently to avoid scorching. Remove from heat when the nuts begin to smell toasted. When cool enough to handle, rub the nuts together in a paper towel to remove loose papery skins. It is fine if a bit of the skins are still adhered to the nuts.