Watch out people, this one is a game changer…It seems wrong that someone so excited by the colourful variety and unlimited possibilities of food, should secretly have a mild addiction to crispy, salty fried chicken, but no-one’s perfect. The trouble with this addiction is that all too frequently the establishments serving up this delectable treat do so using poor quality, cheap and unloved chicken. Whilst I could have sought the highest welfare, most incredible chicken available, that wouldn’t really be considered a ‘game changing’ recipe in my eyes…in steps cauliflower.
The benefits of using cauliflower are great. Firstly, with a veggie wife it results in some pretty uber husband points. It’s also much cheaper than chicken but more importantly, you know it’s not been mistreated before being pumped full of rubbish, all in the pursuit of profit. Finally, the beauty of deep-frying the cauliflower is that the coating goes wonderfully crispy whilst the cauliflower essentially steams inside, resulting in a thoroughly satisfying bite when devoured.
To seal the deal and create the perfect KFC you need to create the ultimate coating. To do so I leaned on one of the best in the game, the American chef Thomas Keller. His fried chicken is dredged in flour packed with smoky, savoury spices, then dipped in wonderfully thick buttermilk before going back in for a second coating of spicy flour. Seriously, it is insane! I used a similar blend with the cauliflower, serving it up with a simple cider vinegar slaw and a spot of hot sauce, the result was divine. If you’re looking for a seasonal party food recipe that is sure to be adored by meat-eaters and veggies alike, you’ve just found it. As always, make plenty because they don’t hang around!
Get ahead – You could coat all the cauliflower pieces in advance so they’re ready to fry when guests arrive. Just store them on a grease-proof lined tray.
1 cauliflower cut into 1.5” pieces (1)
Vegetable/peanut oil to fry
Thyme sprigs to garnish
200g plain flour
2 tbs garlic powder
2 tbs onion granules
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp finely ground sea salt
A good grind of black pepper
Combine all coating ingredients & pour into two bowls, pour buttermilk into another.
Dredge cauliflower in spiced flour, shake off excess. Dip dredged cauliflower into buttermilk, then into next bowl of flour. Lay pieces on greaseproof lined tray.
Fill a medium/large saucepan 1/3rd full of oil, or prepare a deep-fat fryer. Heat to 180’C (2)
Carefully drop coated cauliflower into oil (3).
Fry for 3-4 minutes until deep-golden colour, drain onto kitchen paper. Sprinkle with extra sea salt.
To finish, carefully fry thyme sprigs for a few seconds until crisp, sprinkle on cauliflower.
Prepare to be mobbed by guests.
(1)Try to ensure that all pieces are of equal size so they cook evenly.
(2) A digital thermometer is invaluable here. If you don’t have one, carefully drop a small cube of bread into the oil, it should bubble right away and go golden in about 10 seconds. Always take care when frying, make sure that you’re frying in a suitable area away from children & never leave hot oil unattended.
(3) Don’t overcrowd pan/fryer or the pieces may stick together.