When I was down in Nashville for my friend Sarah’s bachelorette party, the most memorable thing we ate was not the BBQ brisket or the southern-style pecan pancakes. It was the cauliflower.
For our Saturday night dinner we went to Tavern, a modern sports bar-esque restaurant that serves up creative gastro-pub fare. We ordered nearly the whole menu and shared everything. The best thing (by far) was the dish of buffalo cauliflower bites, which is impressive considering they had three types of French fries.
The battered florets reminded me of one of my all-time favorite dishes: Manchurian cauliflower from Devi restaurant. It was the subject of my first ever blog post, and perhaps because of that, loosely responsible for my decision to quit my day job and work full time in the food industry.
Though it was not relevant at the time, one of the best things about the Manchurian cauliflower recipe is that it uses cornstarch instead of flour for the batter. I knew that this was probably not the case with Tavern’s cauliflower, but I had a hard time tearing myself away from the basket after I took a taste. So I was particularly keen to reinvent the dish back home as gluten-free finger food.
Last week Sarah came by for lunch, and I knew there was no better time to try my hand at a buffalo cauliflower bites recipe. The cornstarch base held up very well to the wing sauce. Sarah commented on how light the batter felt and even ventured to say that this version was better than the original, though who could really remember the nuances of that dish after so much Bourbon.
I hate football, but I love the Sunday afternoon ritual of eating wings at a sports bar and pretending to watch the game. For those of you gluten-free folks tailgating in the comfort of your home, give this basket of veggie goodness a try.
To make these a little healthier, I used pressed safflower oil for frying and served them alongside nonfat Greek yogurt instead of blue cheese dressing.
- 2 quarts safflower or canola oil, for frying
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
- 2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance, melted
- 1/4 cup hot sauce, preferably Frank's Red Hot
- In a medium Dutch oven or skillet heat the oil over high flame.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Fold in the cauliflower.
- Test the oil to make sure it's hot enough by adding one battered floret. The cauliflower should rise to the surface almost immediately and begin bubbling. When the oil is hot, add the cauliflower florets, shaking off any excess batter in the bowl. Fry in batches until the florets are golden brown, about 2 minutes total, stirring once to redistribute in the oil. Remove to a towel-lined plate to drain.
- Meanwhile, in another large mixing bowl, stir together the butter and hot sauce. Add the fried cauliflower and toss until well-coated in the buffalo sauce. Serve immediately alongside carrot and celery sticks and your sauce of choice.