Like most chefs, Joshua Keeler harbors a deep love for salt. But at the recently opened Two Boroughs Larder in Charleston, South Carolina, Keeler finds alternate ways to build flavor. In his recipe for roasted cauliflower, Keeler quarters a whole cauliflower head before roasting the large hunks in bacon fat. He then douses the browned, pork-infused pieces in a bold mixture of fish sauce, capers, lime, garlic and chile for a cruciferous side dish that bursts with carnivorous flavor.
Recipe adapted from Joshua Keeler, Two Boroughs Larder, Charleston, SC
Yield: Serves 4
Cook Time: 2 hours
1 head garlic
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
4 strips bacon (preferably double-smoked)
1 large head cauliflower, quartered
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped red Fresno chile (about 1 small chile)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Roast the garlic: Cutting crosswise, slice off the top third of the garlic head and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with ½ teaspoon of the salt and pepper and wrap loosely in aluminum foil. Place in the oven and bake until golden-brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven, set aside to cool slightly, then squeeze the garlic head over a small bowl to release the roasted cloves.
2. Roast the cauliflower: In a large, ovenproof skillet or cast-iron pan set over medium heat, add the bacon and cook, flipping each piece once, until both sides are browned and crisp, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside for another use. Add the cauliflower quarters cut-side down to the bacon fat in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook until browned and a paring knife easily slides into the center of a wedge, about 50 minutes (if roasting a smaller head of cauliflower, it will take less time to roast).
3. Make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, sugar and the remaining 2 teaspoons of the salt until the sugar and salt dissolve. Whisk in the roasted garlic and fish sauce. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the remaining ¼ cup of the olive oil. Stir in the capers, parsley and chiles.
4. To serve, place the cauliflower quarters on a platter and pour the vinaigrette over the top.