Recipe: Hot Wing Cauliflower
Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.
So I was at a party. This was months ago now, but memorably so, due to the good company and the particularly sparkly night, but also because of one particular dish on the potluck table. It was a mostly gluten-free, local Bourbon type of crowd (as tends to happen around these parts), and this one dish was the hum and belle of the party.
Is that harissa? I could eat roasted cauliflower for days! I swear that’s adobo, or maybe just really freshly ground chile? What is this spice? It almost tastes Persian! Is this an Ottolenghi recipe?
The cauliflower was a hit. In fact, around the hand-hewn table just high enough for us to sit cross-legged around it, every plate had a generous pile of the spicy red cauliflower—a rapidly disappearing pile, as the correct verb for how the collective party was eating this dish could only be “shoveling.”
Who made this? I need the recipe! There were a chorus of requests from around the table. One guy in the corner piped up.
“Good, right? It’s Hot Wing Cauliflower. I found it on the Internet.”
There was a collective pause.
“Pretty classic. Dip in flour, coat with hot sauce, that sort of thing.”
“What kind of flour?” someone asked mid-bite.
“I dunno. All-purpose? And Tabasco, I think?”
The gluten-free diners around the table sighed, and reluctantly put down their hot wing cauliflower. Because it was cauliflower, because it was so good, because it was SO good, no one had asked! (Disclaimer: we had no celiacs that I know of around this table, and no false claims were made. Everyone survived. This story is in no way a commentary on gluten-free-ness or anything free-ness. I promise. In fact, I myself was under the temporary direction to give gluten a break at the time, and I, too, put down my delicious cauliflower.)
I’ve thought of that cauliflower ever since, and finally, here in my own kitchen, I even made it gluten-free. And I used my own lacto-fermented hot sauce, so I get local shmancy food points for that, too. But shmancy or not, it’s just hot wing cauliflower. And that’s all it needs to be.
Hot Wing Cauliflower
Serves 4 to 6
1 medium head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
3/4 cup chickpea flour (or all-purpose)
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup hot sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, and salt. Whisk in the water until you have a smooth batter.
2. Coat the cauliflower in the batter, then place cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts. When the cauliflower has done its time in the oven, remove the baking sheet and pour the hot sauce mixture over the cauliflower. Return the cauliflower to the oven and bake until crispy, 25 to 30 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.