Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home
As early as six months ago, the word cauliflower caused Gothamist’s eyes to glaze over.
That was until we ordered a side at Lupa. The roasted, caramelized tops dressed in garlic and olive oil made Gothamist wonder what culinary rock we were living under. Until a recent trip to Porcupine, Lupa’s was by the far the best Gothamist had to date. Porcupine achieves the same caramelized browning, but adds pancetta, raisins and chili. Mmmm. Bacon.
This is miles above the limp, watery and bland cauliflower we’ve had in the past. The key difference is the deep flavor and texture improvements that the roasting process adds to the otherwise flavorless veggie.
Gothamist couldn’t decide on whether to create a recipe from Lupa or Porcupine, so we did the right thing. We took the qualities of each – the garlic and olive oil from Lupa and the bacon, raisins and chili from Porcupine – and added a handful of cool mint to round it out.
Bacon, Raisins, Chili, Garlic, Olive Oil
This dish can be served as an appetizer (Porcupine) or contorni, or side to a main course (Lupa). You can’t lose either way. This dish took about 20 minutes to make from start to finish. If you want to keep this vegetarian, substitute the bacon for some fresh ginger and a roasted nut.
Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves 2 people.
1 head of cauliflower
1 packet of sliced bacon (prefer Niman Ranch if you can find it)
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch mint
EV Olive Oil
Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
Red chili flakes
Estimated cost of ingredients: $15 or less at Fairway
Prep the Cauliflower
Place your oven on broil.
Take the florets off of the head of the cauliflower. Discard the base and root of the head. You want to make the florets all relatively small in size so they can roast quickly. An example of the size is below. Use about ¾ of the head for an appetizer portion for two, or half of the head for a side to a main course.
Place the cauliflower in a pan and drizzle with two glugs of olive oil, or a two second pour. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Mix it all together, making sure to lightly coat all of the florets with the oil. The oil is important for them to caramelize.
Roast the Cauliflower
Place your cauliflower in the oven and broil for 12 minutes, depending on the temperature of you oven. Check it after about 5 or 6 minutes and toss them quickly and place back in the oven. You could also roast them at 450 degrees, just make sure to preheat.
The cauliflower are ready when they have a rice brown caramelized top, but are also al dente and give a bit. Taste to determine whether they are ready. If they get too brown and are not soft enough, you can turn the oven to 350. But as you’ll see below, they will cook a bit more in a pan. Al dente to just a bit soft is perfect.
Make the Bacon
While the cauliflower is roasting, place a large non stick pan on medium heat. Add two slices of bacon and fry to brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to drain. Remove all of the fat from pan, but keep the pan as you need to use it again. The bacon bits on the bottom are also needed, no cleaning please.
Prep the Ingredients
With a peeler, peel two long strips of the rind from the lemon. Try not to get too much of the white pith, it is bitter. Chop the zest finely and set aside (about 1 teaspoon). Chop the two cloves of garlic finely. Chop the mint fine; you’ll need about 1 tablespoon. Have chili flakes out and ready. Take 2 handfuls of raisins out. Crumble the bacon when cool and set aside.
Finish the Dish
When the cauliflower is out of the oven, take a glug of olive oil and add it to the pan in which you made the bacon. Place it on medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of chili flakes to the pan. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the cauliflower and all of the ingredients you’ve prepared. Also add two squeezes of the fresh lemon juice. Mix together and taste. Add salt and pepper as necessary.
Serve right away or set aside and reheat gently in the oven before serving.