French Fry Reboot: Cauliflower Fries
Cookbook author James Villas says to deep fry your cauliflower for a taste sensation.
2013, Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, from Southern Fried by James Villas. Photography by Jason Wyche
Makes 6 servings
Cauliflower is generally boiled, steamed, or baked in kitchens all over the country, but Southern cooks learned long ago that when the florets are briefly parboiled, then generously coated with a cheesy batter and shallow-fried, the vegetable takes on a whole new identity that is utterly beguiling. Fried cauliflower, however, can burn quickly if not watched constantly, which is one reason I use a highly polyunsaturated oil such as safflower, with its ideal smoke point. Serve this cauliflower with any roasted meats or poultry—or even with beef steaks or burgers.—James Villas
- 1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size florets
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1⁄2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups milk
- Safflower oil for shallow frying
Place the cauliflower florets in a large pot with enough salted water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to moderate, and cook till the florets are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the flour, 1⁄2 cup of the cheese, pepper, eggs, and milk; stir to make a smooth batter. In a large, heavy skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over moderately high heat for 2 minutes. In batches, dip the florets in the batter to coat thickly and, using a slotted spoon, fry them till golden brown all over, 5 to 6 minutes, turning. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle the florets generously with the remaining 1 cup cheese, and serve hot or at room temperature.