Watch out people, this one is a game changer…I’ve had an addiction to crispy, salty fried chicken for years. All those delicious spices and textures going on, it’s one of my food heavens. One of the best things about food though, is being able to share it. With a hardcore vegetarian wife, sharing chicken often proves challenging. To resolve this issue I’ve been playing around with alternatives. Cauliflower it turns out is a winner!
Deep-frying anything is hardly going to score any healthy points and the use of flour no longer makes this low-carb, so for me it’s a perfect ‘Cheat Day’ meal. That said, cauliflower is packed with vitamin C and K, you might lose a little from deep-frying it but there’s got to be some residual goodness left over! The beauty of choosing cauliflower is that the coating goes wonderfully crispy whilst the cauliflower essentially steams inside, resulting in a thoroughly satisfying bite.
To seal the deal and create the perfect KFC, you need to create the ultimate coating. To do so, I took inspiration from the great American chef Thomas Keller. His fried chicken is dredged in flour packed with smoky, savoury spices, then dipped in wonderfully thick buttermilk before going back in for a second coating of spicy flour. Seriously, it is delicious! I used a similar blend with the cauliflower, serving it up with a simple cider vinegar dressed slaw and a spot of hot sauce, the result was divine. If you’re looking for a party food recipe that is sure to be adored by meat-eaters and veggies alike, you’ve just found it. Make plenty because it won’t hang around!
Serves: Makes a good bowlful
200g plain flour
2 tbs garlic powder
2 tbs onion granules
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp finely ground sea salt
A good grind of black pepper
1 cauliflower cut into 1.5” pieces (1)
Vegetable/peanut oil to fry
Thyme sprigs to garnish
Your sauce of choice for serving – Frank’s Red Hot Wings or a really garlicky aioli are my faves!
Combine all coating ingredients and pour into two bowls, pour buttermilk into another. Dredge cauliflower in spiced flour, shake off excess. Dip dredged cauliflower into buttermilk, then into next bowl of spiced flour. Lay pieces on greaseproof lined tray.
Fill a medium or large saucepan one third full of oil, or prepare a deep-fat fryer. Heat to 180’C (2). Carefully drop coated cauliflower into oil (3). Fry for 3-4 minutes until deep-golden in colour, drain onto kitchen paper. Sprinkle with sea salt.
To finish, carefully fry thyme sprigs for a few seconds until crisp, sprinkle on cauliflower and serve with your favourite sauce. Prepare to be mobbed by anyone in your household.
(1)Try to ensure that all pieces are of equal size so they cook evenly.
(2) A digital thermometer is invaluable here. If you don’t have one, carefully drop a small cube of bread into the oil, it should bubble right away and go golden in about 10 seconds. Keep little ones far away when frying and turn the pan handle away from you, so you don’t knock it accidentally.
(3) Don’t overcrowd pan/fryer or the pieces may stick together.