Written by MasterClass
Oct 17, 2018 • 3 min read
Written by MasterClass
Oct 17, 2018 • 3 min read
Gone are the days when a vegetarian diet meant subsisting off somewhat bland veggies heaped together as part of a sad side dish. Chefs are getting more creative than ever with hearty, nutritious vegetables. Chef Gordon Ramsay, who has world-renowned establishments including the Michelin-starred London establishment Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and the hit television series-turned-restaurant Hell’s Kitchen, transforms a simple, often overlooked ingredient into a savory, unforgettable main. Gordon’s recipe for a cauliflower steak works as a stunning dish with great depth of flavor, but it is also satisfying and beautiful enough to stand as a vegetarian main course.
To prep the cauliflower, break off the thick leaves and slice off the stem so that the bottom of cauliflower is flat and stable on the cutting board. This technique is useful for safely cutting through any large-scale wobbly veggies like winter squash. Slicing into thick “steaks” ensures that the cauliflower doesn’t break down into florets while cooking, and slicing into equal sizes allows for even cooking—a rule that works across the board with all veggies and proteins.
Brown the butter in the pan and baste the cauliflower steaks with it just like you would a rib eye. Gordon refers to the browned butter by its French name, “beurre noisette,” which translates to hazelnut butter. The nutty flavor of the milk solids in the gently cooked butter is how it got its name.
Gordon plates this dish so that it evokes a feeling of being in a garden. Chive flowers nestled into the olive pistou visually remind the diner of a garden and bright, fresh lemon transports them through aroma.
This dish is gluten-free and vegetarian. To make this dish suitable for a vegan diet, replace the butter with olive oil. Gordon calls this dish “a welcome return for the humble cauliflower.”
Preheat oven to 325F. Peel the leaves off the cauliflower head and cut the stem leaving 1 inch or enough for the cauliflower florets to stay intact. This will leave the base flat and stable on the cutting board and make it easier to cut into the cauliflower evenly. Wet your chef’s knife liberally before cutting the steaks to make the knife slick and nonstick when making contact with the vegetable. Cut 1 inch off the left and right edges of the cauliflower leaving about 2 inches of the center intact. Then slice the remaining portion in half, resulting in two 1-inch steaks from each head of cauliflower. The more even the steaks, the more evenly they will cook.
Drizzle a baking sheet tray or glass baking pan with 4 ounces (or 8 tablespoons) of olive oil. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons harissa powder and 2 pinches of Maldon salt over the oil. Rub one side of the steaks in the olive oil/harissa mix and pour 1 ounce of olive oil and the remaining harissa powder over the other sides. Finish with another 2 pinches of Maldon salt.
Heat two large cast-iron skillets on medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in each. Once the pans are smoking, place cauliflower in the hot pan and let brown on one side for 90 seconds or until the edges begin to char. Turn the steaks over gently, add 2 tablespoons of butter to each pan, melt, and brown to give the steaks a nutty flavor. Baste the steaks with the browned butter.
When the butter is frothy, split vegetable stock into the pans and let it come to a boil. Remove from the stovetop and place side by side on the middle rack of the oven. Roast cauliflower steaks for 8 to 10 minutes. Use a paring knife to test the doneness of the cauliflower. If you feel resistance, continue cooking; if it pushes into the flesh easily, it is finished cooking. Transfer to a platter to rest.
Heat a large saut. pan on medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut the porcinis in 1⁄4 -inch slices lengthwise and move to the side of the cutting board. Cut the shallots in half lengthwise then turn them onto the cut side for stability to thinly slice. Add the porcinis to the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Add the shallots and garlic into the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the shallots and garlic are translucent. Zest lemon into the pan and add the olive pistou. Stir together.
Lower the heat to medium-low. Chiffonade the mint and sprinkle over the mushrooms. Add the capers and stir in to incorporate. Turn off heat and season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.
Plate two roasted cauliflower steaks with the cores facing each other. Spoon the olive pistou/mushroom mixture over the cauliflower steaks. Finish with a drizzle olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice and tuck the garlic or chive blossoms into the mixture atop the steaks. Plate cauliflower steaks individually if serving as a main.
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