This is just a quick tip for those who haven’t tried it before. My mother-in-law has made fauxtatoes from cauliflower for a long time, and now I’ve learned the secret. It’s super easy and I’ll share it here.
Cauliflower is one of the few vegetables in its class that I can really stand, but it has to be done to the point of mushiness, and preferably buttery. I quite like it that way. It’s always been a favorite of mine, so when my wife went low-carb again recently, I wanted to know how to make her mom’s fauxtatoes so I could prepare something delicious for both of us.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 lb. cauliflower florets, frozen
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick butter
- Salt and seasonings to taste
- Microwave cooking vessel
- Food processor (3 cups or more)
I start with a 1 lb. bag of frozen florets, and throw them in the Pampered Chef large micro cooker. This thing could easily fit two or three times as much cauliflower, but a pound is plenty. It goes in my little underpowered microwave at half power for about six minutes, which is maybe four in a better microwave. At that point the florets are still a smidge frozen, but I add heavy cream. I did this by eye, but with one pint I made two batches, so given the fact that cream gets added twice I’d say it takes half a cup on the first go. The cream will absorb the cabbagy flavor from the cauliflower.
After the cream is added, the cauliflower goes in for six more minutes on high. (If your microwave is any kind of decent, use less time.) After that, it’s time to check on the florets. Chances are they’ll need a few more minutes, so just give them a stir and maybe try to break them up a bit with a silicone spatula or what have you. The goal at this point is to get them to where a fork goes in with a little resistance, but there’s really nothing “crunchy” left about them. In other words the florets should be soft, but not super-soft yet. So give them a few more minutes as needed until they get to that point.
Once the florets pass the first fork test, it’s time to dump out the cream and replace it. The Pampered Chef micro cooker is awesome for this because it has holes in the lid. I just tip it over, let it drain, take off the cover briefly for a quick rinse, and I’m good to go again. Break up the florets a little more to even out the cooking. Another half cup of cream goes in now, and a stick of butter. That’s right, a whole stick. This is low-carb, not low-fat. I’ve tried it with half a stick and it’s only acceptable.
Now the florets go back in the microwave for a few more minutes. It doesn’t take too long, maybe just two or three minutes in my little microwave, so it might be less for yours. The goal now is for a fork to go into the florets with incredible ease, so once you reach that point you’re done with the microwave.
Now, dump the florets, liquid and all, into your food processor. I have a little 3-cup Cuisinart, which is just big enough, but it can’t hold all the florets until I’ve pulsed it a few times. Add some salt and whatever other seasonings you want to taste, and don’t be too shy—I’m using at least a teaspoon of kosher salt, if not more, but you can start light and keep tasting till you’re sure it’s good. Chop away for a bit until the cauliflower is ground up very fine, and all that’s left is a nice simple purée with no big chunks.
Serve and enjoy. It makes a little under 3 cups, and I think portions out nicely into four modest servings or three generous ones. (We usually split it into three. I like to give my wife the last portion so she can have more food variety.) You may want to add more butter just to make it all the more decadent, or you can add cheese or whatever; my wife loves it with cheddar mixed in. Fauxtatoes are nice and creamy and go nicely with any meat dish, plus most of the cooking time is spent in microwave-and-forget mode so you can concentrate on other parts of your meal. A little bit of cauliflower flavor is left over, so you won’t mistake it for regular mashed potatoes, but coming from a mashed potato fiend like me you won’t be sorry you made these. They are however a bit filling.
My mother-in-law makes these on the stove, not the microwave, and just cooks them down over time. It works fine, but I like the microwave method because it’s so darn easy. She has, in the past, made a similar purée from turnips. I found I actually prefer the turnip version, as when they’re cooked with cream they lose a lot of their sharp spiciness, but you get a really nice earthy, almost meaty flavor out of them. Turnips however are not low-carb, so I only recommend trying it if you want to experience the different flavor or find something useful to do with a turnip. I kind of wonder if I could get the same bang for the buck by adding half a teaspoon of MSG to the cauliflower version, but I’ve never tried it; maybe I’ll sprinkle a little on next time to see what happens.