Having nourished the English since 1619, the cauliflower is still delicious, as Melanie Johnson’s recipes proves.
“Where would we be without cauliflower cheese? I, for one, would miss it terribly. But when you grow cauliflowers yourself and you’re trying to work out how on earth you’re going to use up all 23 of them within a fortnight, you’re forced to think outside the box, as I have for this week’s recipes”
Maple-roasted duck and cauliflower risotto (serves 4)
1 duck (approximately 1.25kg)
200ml maple syrup
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
A splash of olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely sliced
4 sprigs thyme
4 sage leaves
400g Arborio rice
200ml white wine
2 cauliflowers, medium-sized
1.25 litre chicken stock
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Make some slits in the skin of the duck, then scatter with sea salt and pepper. Place on a rack over a roasting tray and transfer to the oven.
Mix the maple syrup, thyme, rosemary and seasoning together in a small bowl to create a glaze. After 40 minutes, take the duck out of the oven and coat it with the glaze. Return to the oven, brushing it with more glaze every 10 minutes or so, until it’s roasted for a total of 75 minutes and is cooked through.
While the duck is cooking, make the risotto. Heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dish with a lid. Fry the diced onion until translucent, then add the garlic, thyme and sage and fry for a minute more. Stir well, then pour in the rice. Mix it for a minute or so to ensure each grain is coated with olive oil you may need to add a little more if the pan seems too dry. Pour the wine over the rice (it will sizzle at first) and stir until fully absorbed.
Cut both cauliflowers into florets add the first to the risotto dish and the second to the roasting tray underneath the duck in the oven.
Pour a third of the chicken stock into the risotto dish. Continue to stir until it’s almost fully absorbed, then add the second third. Again, stir until almost fully absorbed, before adding the remaining stock.
When the rice is tender, remove the dish from the heat and drop in the butter. Stir to make the grains glisten, then taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, before putting the lid on the dish and leaving to stand for about eight minutes this will make the risotto really creamy.
Remove the sprigs of herbs from the risotto and divide them between the plates. Take the duck out of the oven and leave it to rest, then remove the cauliflower florets from the tray and arrange them on top of each plate of risotto. Serve scattered with amaranth and grated Parmesan and with the duck on the side. Some redcurrant jelly wouldn’t go amiss, either.
More ways with cauliflower
Cauliflower soup with Camargue red rice
Add a chopped white onion, two medium-sized cauliflowers cut into florets, two garlic cloves, two sprigs of thyme and seasoning to a pan, and add enough chicken stock to just cover them. Simmer until cooked, then whizz with a stick-blender, before adding 100ml cream. Rinse the rice under cold running water and cook in boiling water for 20 minutes or as per the packet instructions. To serve, ladle a mound of rice into the centre of a bowl, pour the soup over it and scatter with toasted, flaked almonds.
Cauliflower ‘rice’ salad with pomegranate seeds
Cut a medium-sized cauliflower into tiny rice-sized pieces (you can use a food processor), then simmer the ‘rice’ in boiling water until cooked. Strain and allow to cool. Add the seeds from a pomegranate and a few fresh herbs, mix tog-ether well and serve drizzled with vinaigrette.