My version of Orecchiette with Oven-Roasted Cauliflower

If you've been reading this blog then you know we just returned home from possibly the best trip to the California wine country ever.  One of the best stops on this memorable trip was at Seghesio winery for their Family Table food and wine pairing.

We were lucky enough to be the only people signed up for the Family Table that evening.  Did they cancel on us?  No, Chef Peter Janiak created amazing food for little old Dave and I!

Chef Janiak made me pork belly and I ate it.  And I liked it!  You can check that out HERE.

This blog is dedicated to a recipe Chef Janiak posted on Facebook that I tried tonight.  He posted that this was something he made when he was "short on time."  I'm always short on time!  Tonight was no exception.  I got home a little late from work, walked the dogs, showered, ran out to do a "quick" errand that I knew I wouldn't have time for tomorrow then started dinner.

The ingredients:
2 cups of milk (heated but not scalded)
3 Tablespoons of Butter
2 Tablespoons of AP Flour
¼ teaspoon of Nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 cup of grated Gruyere
½ cup of grated Parmesan Reggiano
8 ounces of Orechiette
4 cups of Cauliflower florets cut to the size of the pasta
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh Oregano
1.5 teaspoons of Aleppo chili flake and a couple pinches for garnish

How can you possibly go wrong with those ingredients?  I had some butternut squash in the house so I added that!

I love, love, love Gruyere cheese.  This one is my favorite!

The sauce starts with browned butter.  There are few things that smell better, or taste better for that matter, than browned butter!  I love the nutty flavor, especially when it's poured over my homemade squash ravioli with some crisped sage.  But that's another blog...

You brown the butter then add flour to make a roux.  Different from a normal roux, Chef Janiak browns both the butter and the flour.  Isn't this beautiful?

Once this is good and golden brown you add a little nutmeg and bay leaf.  I wasn't expecting an explosion in the pan at this point.  I'm not sure if it was the leaf or the nutmeg but watch for some sizzle!

Warmed milk is added to the rough to make the base for the sauce.  Chef Janiak's direction said to cook this until the "raw flour" flavor went away.  So I tasted it right away and yes, there was a bit of a raw flour flavor.  After about 15 minutes that went away!  Amazing!

The cheese is then added.

Chef Janiak says to toss the cauliflower with olive oil, oregano and aleppo pepper flakes then broil it until slightly golden brown.  Well, I modified this a bit.  I added the squash and I didn't have aleppo pepper (well I know I do but I couldn't find it) so I used chipotle.  Instead of broiling the veggies I roasted them.  Are these beautiful or what?

I didn't have any Orecchiette but I did have this fabulous pasta so I used that.

I did have to add a little pasta water to my sauce and if someone hadn't forgotten to bring bread home so he had to go back out and buy it just when dinner was ready, the sauce would have been perfect!  I tasted it, it was perfect!   By the time I plated and pictured it had thickened up again but it was still delicious!

It was supposed to be served in "pasta bowls."  I don't own pasta bowls.  I have soup bowls so that's what we used.  Do you think this tastes different depending on the bowl from which you eat it, kind of like how wine tastes different based on the glass from which you drink it?

Bottom line I loved it.  The sauce was divine with nuttiness from the roux and the Parmesan reggiano, a little sweet from the squash, smoky with just a hint of heat from the chipotle, oh my thank god there's some left for lunch tomorrow!

Follow Chef Peter Janiak on Facebook so you too can get some of these amazing recipes!

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