Sometimes I like a vegetable puree as an alternative to mashed potatoes. Cauliflower alone can have a watery consistency, so adding potatoes can help with this. I add parsnips for their flavor, which is fragrant. But be careful not to add too many, and be restrained with the other seasonings as well, so that they support the flavor of the cauliflower and don’t overpower it. Calvados worked its way into this recipe simply because I was making it to go along side of Chicken with Apples and Calvados Cream, so on a whim I threw some Calvados onto the shallots and I liked what it did to them. - SallyCan —SallyCan
Test Kitchen Notes
The recipe is a wonderful conjunction of autumn flavors, balanced so that the delicate cauliflower is not overwhelmed. As my food processor is missing a disk, I mashed it up like potatoes. It was slightly lumpy but delicious. I think it's the kind of recipe that would be suave if smooth. Calvados works great with shallots. The only thing I would add next time is maybe some pickled red onions on the top to add color and a tiny bit of crunch, or some frizzled shallots. Thanks for a great recipe, SallyCan! – luvcookbooks —The Editors
3 bay leaves (If you have fresh bay leaves, use them. If you don’t, try to find yourself a nice plant to keep in your kitchen window or patio!)
2 cloves garlic
4 medium parsnips, about 1c, peeled and cut into 1” pieces. (If the inner core is very hard, remove it or it might have trouble passing through the ricer)
2 small potatoes, about 1 c, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
1 small head cauliflower, core removed, stems and florets cut into 2” pieces, about 4 c
3 T butter
2 or 3 shallots, about 1/3 c, rough or fine mince, whichever you prefer
Fill a large pot with about 2 quarts of water. You’ll want to have enough to cover all of your vegetables when they’re added. Add bay leaves and garlic. Bring to a boil.
Add parsnips, lower heat, and simmer for 2 minutes or so.
Add potatoes, lower heat, and simmer for 5 or 10 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften, but are still firm when pierced with a fork.
Add cauliflower and simmer until all vegetables are very soft.
While vegetables are cooking, prepare shallots. In a small pan melt 3T butter. Add shallots, sprinkle with kosher salt, and cover and cook on very low heat until they are soft, but not brown. Remove from heat and add Calvados, distributing evenly. Cook again on low heat for a minute or two, stirring gently, until it is absorbed into the shallots. Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes and garlic. Remove bay leaves, and pass through a ricer with either a fine or medium disc. I prefer a chunkier puree, so I use a medium disc, but if you like it smooth, then use a fine disc. Alternatively, you could also press it through a sieve.
Mix in 1 – 2 T butter and enough cream to give it a nice smooth consistency. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Use white pepper if you want your puree to stay white, use black pepper if you don’t mind the specks
The Calvados shallots may be mixed in, or sprinkled on top.