Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Paleo Comfort Foods: Cauliflower Mash

Mashed potatoes.  Who doesn't love mashed potatoes?  Before going adopting a paleo diet, I would rarely allow myself mashed potatoes.  I certainly wouldn't allow myself to have mashed potatoes with butter.  Cauliflower mash is a prime example that eating a paleo diet does not include deprivation.  I want to have a blind taste test at my house where I would defy my guests to say that my cauliflower mash doesn't have all the taste, feel and flavor of mashed potatoes.  When I want anything that sounds like comfort food, I turn to the experts:  Julie and Charles Mayfield.  Here is their recipe for cauliflower mash.

I gathered my ingredients and started by taking some of my stress by smashing some garlic.

Because the cauliflower is going to be mashed, you don't have to be too careful when cutting up your heads of cauliflower.  I cut mine in half and then cut out the core.  After that I cut the halves into smaller pieces.  I used two heads of cauliflower instead of one as they were small.

I put all of the ingredients into my dutch oven.  I don't use the rosemary that the recipe calls for because I personally do not like a lot of rosemary in my food.  It tastes of soap to me.  Of course, I used homemade chicken broth.

I let it come to a boil, and then reduced the stove temp and I put the lid on for 20 minutes.  

After 20 minutes, I removed the cauliflower from the dutch oven into a storage container/bowl with a slotted spoon leaving the cooking liquid in the pot.   I'm usually one not to use extra bowls, but I don't like using my immersion blender in my Le Creuset.  It probably won't hurt it, but I don't want to find out the hard and expensive way that it does.   

At this point I added the "mix-ins" I enjoy.  This time it was grass fed butter and some Fox Point Seasoning from Penzeys Spices.   

All that is left to do is process your cauliflower with some mechanical means until it has the smooth consistency of mashed potatoes.  If your cauliflower seems dry as you are processing it, add a little of the cooking liquid.  I've never really had to add cooking liquid to mine.

I like using my immersion blender for this.  You can use a blender or food processor as well. If you use an immersion blender, just plunge the blender into the cauliflower until the consistency is right.

And here is my end result.  

Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients:  Everything you need to make this recipe can be found at your "big box" grocery store pretty inexpensively.

Preparation and Cook Time:  It took me about 10 minutes to get my cauliflower into the pot to cook.  The cook time was 20 minutes.  It took about 5 minutes to process the cauliflower into mash.  Grand total: 35 minutes.

Clean Up:  I had to hand wash my dutch oven and knife.  If you're using a blender or food processor you will have more dishes than just the mixing end of an immersion blender that I was able to put in the dishwasher.

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  This recipe has made a vegetable that was previously relegated to being left behind on vegetable platters everywhere to a main attraction on many of my dinner plates.  I have many friends who won't even try this dish and boy they are missing out.  The only drawback to making the mash this way is the cooking time and having to wash a separate cooking pot.

Post Script: If you are short on time, but still want some mash, here is how I make mine on busy weeknights.  It takes about half the time and less involvement from me during the cooking process with less clean up.

Paleo Comfort Foods says its fine to use frozen cauliflower, so I do.  I put 2 bags of frozen cauliflower in a microwave safe covered casserole dish.  I pour enough broth into the dish to just cover the bottom.  This will vary for you depending on the dish you use.

Put the cover on and put the dish in the microwave for 10 minutes.  Your microwave time may vary depending on the power of your microwave.  When its done, remove it from the microwave and carefully pour off the liquid into the sink.  Until you've tried this a few times and gotten the hang of it, you may want to reserve some of the liquid so you can add it back in if you think it needs it.  I add my additional flavors just as I did in the stove top version, but this time, I can process my cauliflower right in the casserole dish.  Use a plunging motion to get the mash as smooth as you prefer.  

This way, I have no pots or knives to clean and everything can go in the dishwasher.  I hope you give cauliflower mash a chance on your dinner plate.