Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to Cut Cauliflower into Florets

I owe all my knowledge of how to cut a cauliflower to Bonanza, and I don't mean the American western TV series that ran in the 60s and early 70s.  I mean Bonanza the buffet/steakhouse chain restaurant that hired me at the ripe age of 16.

I managed their salad bar and had the privilege of cleaning up patron's salad fixings that landed on the bar instead of their plate as they made their way through the buffet.  As instructed, I put everything from peas and croutons to shredded cheese and mushrooms in the pockets of my apron affixed to my waist.  By the end of a 4-hour shift, I had a massive accumulation of food in my pockets which was mashed and wet by the time I left for home.  If you are not cringing right now, you should be, but I actually think I hear your collective "Eeeewww".  It was ugly and disgusting; although, not nearly as ugly as when I simultaneously saw my mom's face and the contents of my dirty work apron strung around the entire inside of my her washing machine.  I would like to say that I had inadvertently forgotten to empty my apron before washing it only once and learned my lesson, but that is not how I remember it going. 

Oh how I digress. Back to Cauliflower. As I made my way from buffet-cleaner to produce-stocker, I learned all sorts of new and efficient ways of cutting vegetables in an effort to stock the restaurant's refrigerator for the next day. This is one of them.

1.  Turn cauliflower so head (the white curd) is down on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut cauliflower into 2 pieces starting at the thick green leaves and going through the stalk.

2.  Hold one half cauliflower at the end of the stalk and cut at the base of the florets where the white curd and the stalk intersect, releasing the florets from the stalk.  Continue cutting until you have released all the florets on this half of the cauliflower.

3.  Repeat with the second half in the same manner until all the florets are removed.  Discard the two pieces of thick green leaves and their connected portion of stalk, or use them for making vegetable broth.

4.  Divide the florets into equal size pieces.  To roast, boil, fry, or steam you want uniform pieces so they cook evenly.

And there you have it, cauliflower florets all ready for your recipe.  And to Bonanza, I owe you both a thank you and a shame on you--let's hope for the sake of your naive new hires you have a different system in place to clean the salad bar.


Spryte said...

Thanks for posting this!! It seems like it should be simple... but it has given me a hard time in the past!

Mamahollioni said...

Spryte...exactly! Restaurants have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves that everyday cooks should know about. I was saying that I learned "all my knowledge" about cauliflower tongue-in-cheek because there really isn't that much to know about it, but that's the joy of learning simple things.:-)