Truth be told, I am and have always been a sucker for wedding/party food. I remember the first “Mash-tini” bar that I encountered. It was at a wedding (of course) and there was a tall, quiet man dressed in black pants and a crisp white dress shirt serving up elegant, long stemmed martini glasses filled with fluffy clouds of buttery mashed potatoes. With a sweep of his arm he invited me to explore a long table filled with mounds and mounds of toppings. Bacon, shrimp, chives, cheese, bacon, sour cream and three different kinds of delicious gravy. (Oh, and did I mention bacon?) I was in mashed potato heaven!
If you’ve had a bad experience with cauli-mash, I encourage you to give this method a try. The key to making a great tasting mash that everyone will go crazy for is nailing the texture. You have to keep it nice and thick instead of letting it become a runny, sloppy mess. This is done through proper cooking times/techniques and by not adding too much liquid ingredients during the blending process. If your cauliflower gets overcooked it will be runny instead of fluffy and thick as well as smell and taste overly “cauliflowery”.
A good thing to remember is that cauliflower already has a naturally high water content and is fairly low in starch. For this reason I prefer to steam my cauliflower so as not to introduce any more liquid than necessary to the equation. Roasting works well too, as it evaporates some of the water. I tend to like the bright flavor of the steamed cauliflower and the ease of the stove top use. I know you might be thinking “but I want my mashed-cauli to be flavorful not bland!” Don’t worry, your mash can have flavor and fluff too! But ONLY if you don’t overcook it! We’ll talk about cooking times in the recipe below.
Serves 2- 3
1 head of cauliflower (if it is very small you may need 1 1/2 to 2 heads)
2-3 Tablespoons fat, I like to use 50/50 bacon fat and ghee
Coarse Sea Salt & pepper to taste (a must for great flavor)
Optional: dried herbs like chives, marjoram or Italian seasoning, even crumbled bacon..
Extra ghee or oil for serving
Toppings: The options are endless, but we like to use these: crispy bacon crumbles, fresh chives or green onions, shrimp, sausage, chicken, ham, pickles, asparagus, raw yogurt, raw cheese, gravy, hollandaise…maybe not all at one time though.
1. Fill a medium sized pot (fitted with a steamer basket) about 1/4-1/3 full of water. You want to give it room to boil without hitting the bottom of the basket. Do not pre-boil the water! Just leave it there till ready to use.
2. Cut the cauliflower into small evenly sized florets, trimming off the thick ends. You can keep the ends for salads, soups or whatever. You will have a fluffier mash if you cut them all the way off. Add the cauliflower to the basket but do not over stuff or the cooking time could be longer. Cover with the lid.
3. Set over medium/high heat and set he timer for about 12 minutes. While the cauliflower is steaming prepare your toppings.
TIP: Important: DO NOT OVER COOK! It may seem like the cauliflower isn’t cooked through enough, but it most likely is. The cauliflower should be soft enough to break up if pressed with a wooden spoon, but it should not be mushy at all. If you let the cauliflower get too soft it will just end up as a runny mess instead of a fluffy mash once pureed. If it is too under-cooked it will be grainy. Twelve minutes works every time for me, however, times could vary slightly from steamer to steamer and burner to burner.
4. Remove from heat and immediately transfer the cauliflower to a food processor. Process till smooth. This could take a few minutes so be patient! Stop the processor if needed and stir to get all the cauliflower pieces blended in. I’ve also used a high powered blender, but you may have to stir more often to keep it moving through the container.
5. As the mash gets smoother, add about 2-3 tablespoons of fat and any dried herbs that you like, then continue pureeing until smooth.6. Transfer to a bowl and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly as it can be extremely hot and bonus, it will thicken some as it cools too.
Divide into 2-3 martini glasses or other dishes, add toppings and ENJOY!