Smoked Cauliflower with Waffles

Your mind will be blown by this vegetarian twist on a classic soul food combo of Chicken and Waffles, only instead of chicken it’s smoked cauliflower. Smoking brings out the best in cauliflower, and the horseradish sauce gives it some bite. You can also use the horseradish sauce on pretty much anything.
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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 2 hr
  • Active: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Waffles

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup canola oil

Horseradish Cream

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons horseradish, jarred or fresh

Cauliflower

1/2 head cauliflower

1 1/2 quarts canola oil, enough to fill the pot to ¾ full

4 cups corn flakes

1/4 cup paprika

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 1/2 cups cornstarch, divided

1 large egg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions

  1. Waffles: In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Crack an egg into a second large bowl; break it up slightly with the whisk, then whisk in milk, buttermilk, and canola oil until combined. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined; do not overmix. (Small lumps will dissolve while the batter rests.) Set aside to rest, 30 minutes.
  2. Horseradish cream: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the heavy cream and horseradish. Bring to a low simmer (do not let it boil!), then reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Make sure the cream never reaches a boil during this time. After 30 minutes, strain to remove horseradish solids and set aside.
  3. Smoked cauliflower: Line a heavy-bottomed pot with heavy aluminum foil. (Note: If you can, use an old—it may smell like smoke for a long time.) Spread wet hickory chips evenly along the bottom. Cover the pot, and turn the heat to high. Open your windows, turn off your smoke alarm, and let the chips reach a full smoke—really billowing, not just the first smoke you see. (Think of the difference between a simmer and a full boil.) This should take about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into florets (about 2–3 cups). Out of more aluminum foil, make an insert to place over the hickory chips, and poke holes in it. Place it directly on top of the mature wood chips. Layer the cauliflower evenly on top of the foil, replace the lid, and smoke until the cauliflower is light brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Deep-fried cauliflower: In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil to 350–375 degrees F. To prepare the batter, pulse corn flakes, granulated onion, granulated garlic, and salt in a food processor for about 10 seconds, just enough to break down the corn flakes. Remove to a bowl and mix by hand to make sure the spices are evenly distributed. Put 2 cups cornstarch into a second bowl. Crack an egg into a third bowl, then add ½ cup cornstarch, the flour, and the buttermilk; whisk until combined.
  5. Dredge the smoked cauliflower through the three bowls: Start with the cornstarch, then the buttermilk mixture, and end with the corn flake mixture. (For minimal mess, use one hand to do the wet dipping and the other to do the dry dipping.) Set pieces aside as they're dredged. When the oil has reached 350–375 degrees F, place the dredged cauliflower gently into the oil, one floret at a time. Fry until golden brown and the bubbles in the oil begin to die down, 1–2 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towels.
  6. Waffles and assembly: Heat a waffle iron to medium-high (according to manufacturer instructions). The rested batter will still have lumps in it—that's fine! Ladle enough of the batter onto the bottom to cover. Close the lid and cook until brown and crispy, 1–2 minutes. To plate, pour several spoonfuls of horseradish cream onto a wide bowl or plate; add a waffle and two pieces of cauliflower. Finish with a few more spoonfuls of horseradish cream, and serve immediately.
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