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Recipe

Cauliflower Steak with Thai Chili Sauce and Sweet Potato Purée

Eric Medsker

Servings: 8

Although we’re not much into meatish fakes, you can indeed turn a firm, large cauliflower into steaks (of a sort) that deserve a knife and a fork. Rather than grill them outdoors, we’ve headed to the stove because we feel the sear from the skillet, followed by the more gentle heat of the oven, creates the best overall texture. We also let an Asian condiment do a lot of the work in balancing the flavors. Since this dish is a big finish to a meal, the courses that come before should be light and simple but with spiky, hot, or salty flavors so this plate doesn’t come out of the blue.

Ingredients

For the purée

  • 1 Tbs. roasted walnut oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple cider

For the steaks

  • 2 large cauliflower heads (about 2 lb. each)
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil (or perhaps a little more)
  • 3/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce, such as Mae Ploy

For the garnish

  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Gingersnap cookies

Preparation

Make the purée

  • Set a large saucepan over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the walnut oil. Dump in the onion, ginger, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and stir over the heat for 1 minute. Pour in the cider and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a large food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the bowl at least once.

Make the steaks

  • Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F.
  • Trim the green leaves off the cauliflower heads, then slice them each in half through the stem. Starting at the cut side of each cauliflower half, make 1/2-inch-thick slices for as long as the slices will hold together. You should end up with about 4 slices per head (or 2 slices per half a head).
  • Set a large cast iron skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Swirl in 1 tablespoon peanut oil, then slip some of the cauliflower slices into the skillet, probably no more than 2 slices. Cook, turning once, until browned, even blistered a bit, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet, add another tablespoon of peanut oil to the skillet, and continue frying the rest in more batches as necessary.
  • Once all the cauliflower slices are on the baking sheet, brush them with the chili sauce. Bake until tender and bubbling at the edges, about 10 minutes.
  • To serve, divide the sweet potato puree onto the serving plates and top each with a cauliflower steak.
  • To garnish, combine equal parts panko breadcrumbs and coarsely ground gingersnap cookies to sprinkle over each serving.

Make Ahead Tips

Make the sweet potato puree up to 4 hours in advance. Store, covered, on the back of the stove.

There will inevitably be leftover cauliflower that is not cut into steaks. Save it in the fridge and use it in a day or two to make an easy dinner.

Tip

Thai sweet chili sauce is the dipping sauce of choice for spring rolls in Thai restaurants—and available in almost all larger supermarkets. It’s a thickened concoction of vinegar, sugar, and chiles, sometimes with aromatic vegetables in the mix.

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