A different kind of steak, but just as wonderful.
Last week, we had steak and pasta. This week, a different kind of steak… Cauliflower Steak!
Before you run screaming, these are terrific. Even the staunchest carnivore alive might be surprised to find out how much they like these steaks. And yes I’m calling them steaks because, if you slice them thick and cook them properly (easy) they are steak-y satisfying and quite hearty.
I guess in some ways this has been my year of the cauliflower on the blog. I do love cauliflower — so much — and love many preparations, from a simple oven roast to wonderful soups to, of course, my cauliflower pizza crust, my cauliflower mash (updated, btw, with an additional, killer, preparation) and even my breakfast fried rice, which you can make with cauliflower rice.
These steaks, however, are different from the other recipes and so satisfying. They make a wonderful fall dinner.
I prepare them with the pan sauce I’ve been pushing on you as of late (here, and here). I hope third time’s the charm and some of you start to make this sauce, whatever you might be roasting in your pan… pork chops, chicken thighs, steaks, cauliflower steak, even a good thick cut piece of fish. My pan sauce is easy and terrific. People go nuts for it and once you master it, you’ll make it all the time.
As for the cauliflower, I’m enjoying these steaks so much I make them once or twice a week lately. I think you may enjoy them as well.
QUICK VERSION: the preparation is almost identical to the prep I detailed last week with a NY Strip: sear them on each side with a lot of salt and pepper, remove, then make your pan sauce and let the cauliflower cook a little more in the pan sauce, to soften a bit. That’s it! More specific details below.
CAULIFLOWER STEAK with pan sauce (serves two)
1 large head of cauliflower
salt & pepper
1 large shallot, sliced (or 1/2 a small sweet or red onion, chopped)
1 fresno chili, halved vertically, then sliced into half rings
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
white wine or dry vermouth
2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 T mustard
butter, salt and pepper
– Trim the green leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower. You can start this process by cutting off much of the stem, although you want to leave a little of the stem to keep the whole head together.
– Stand the cauliflower upright and slice it vertically right down the middle. Then, with each half, make another vertical cut top to bottom about an inch thick to create two large steaks of cauliflower. Yes, this will look a little like a brain you’re slicing in AP Biology.
– Salt and pepper both sides of the cauliflower steaks, saving the remaining pieces of cauliflower for another use (you could even roast them in the oven tonight for a double hit of cauliflower.)
– Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for 3-5 minutes, get it really hot.
– Add a glug or two of olive oil and let heat up for a couple of minutes.
– Add your cauliflower steaks to the cast iron skillet. It should really sizzle and pop! If it doesn’t, take it out and let the oil get hotter then try again. (You’ll probably need to use your vent when cooking the steak.) Let sear, without moving, 3-5 minutes until the side is starting to get really charred. You don’t want to totally blacken it out but I like a good deal of black char on it.
– Then flip and do the same on the other side. Once the other side has the same great char, remove the steaks from the pan. (They are not done.)
– Turn the heat down to medium low. Add your shallot and Fresno chili and sauté over low heat, scraping up brown bits from the bottom.
– When the shallot and Fresno chili are soft, add the garlic and sauté only a minute more so it doesn’t brown.
– Add 2 or 3 glugs of dry vermouth (or white wine) and turn up the heat to medium high, stirring well. Let the alcohol mostly cook off, which takes a few minutes.
– Add the broth, a few shakes of salt and pepper, 1 T mustard and the thyme. (I just throw in about 5-10 sprigs of thyme. The small leaves will fall off on their own and you can extract the stems when you serve.)
– Let the sauce simmer on medium low, it will bubble and cook down, stirring it occasionally to incorporate the mustard. After a few minutes, add the steaks back into the sauce. (Whichever side is charred the most, keep that side up, above the sauce.)
– Now the steaks will cook more and begin to soften. I like a bite in mine so I don’t let them soften all the way through. You may like them softer but don’t let them turn to mush! You are going for a steak-type experience. Depending on the thickness and the temp of your pan, this could take 5-10 minutes. As you taste and adjust the sauce, use a knife to test the firmness of the steaks.
– When the steaks are at your desired doneness, remove the steaks, plate and ladle over the sauce, making sure to get shallots and chilis on top.
I like cauliflower so much I’ve even eaten these on top of my mashed cauliflower! If that is too much for you, you can serve them over polenta or rice, or also just by themselves. You can also vary the sauce. I’ve made these adding sautéed mushrooms to the sauce prep (see below) and they were still divine. Just throw in the sliced mushrooms right after the garlic, let them cook a few minutes to release their liquid, then keep going in the same way.
With another vegetable or two as a side, and a salad, this is a wonderful, surprisingly hearty meal.
Give it a try!