Wednesday, November 16, 2016

When a Potato Isn't a Potato: The Best Mashed "Fauxtatoes" Recipe for a Paleo (or Diabetic) Thanksgiving

Many of you out there have heard of the Paleo diet, a way of eating that eliminates foods that are "new" in the agricultural evolutionary scheme of things which supposedly freak out our bodies and make a lot of weird, unhealthy crap-ola happen: potentially things like lupus, Crohn's, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer... It's been getting a lot of research, and while both sides vehemently argue its validity, I have to personally say that I have felt much, MUCH better by drastically cutting back on two of the big "no-nos" of the Paleo menu: grains of any sort and dried legumes (that includes peanuts).

Also included on some Paleo-ers "do-not-eat" list are white potatoes. I believe the argument is that the glycemic index of a white potato is quite high. With that being said, I still eat white potatoes; I just eat them a LOT less often. What I do instead is what a lot of Paleo-ers (and a lot of diabetics!) do: I make "fauxtatoes."

What the hell, you ask? 

I know. It's hokey. But here's what it is: it's cauliflower, generally steamed and then puréed to a smooth consistency to resemble mashed potatoes. 

I've been making it for several years now, and I like it. I do. But I've always been a bit annoyed with one thing (which if you've tried it, you probably know what I'm about to say): the "fauxtatoes" always come out looking a bit watery and loose. They don't have that oomph that mashed potatoes do. And I WANT that oomph. I like when they plop onto my plate, not ooze.

SO. Last night I was making fauxtatoes to accompany some chicken scallopini and sautéed Swiss chard when it suddenly hit me: why don't I try drying out my cauliflower before I purée it???

DUH.

So, here's what I did: I placed my cauliflower florets (a medium-sized head, cored and cut into large florets) plus two peeled garlic cloves into a steamer basket, sprinkled them with a bit of kosher salt, and steamed them for about 15 minutes (or until I could easily slide a fork into the center of the largest piece).

Steamed cauliflower for the "fauxtatoes"

I then spread out the florets on a baking sheet, making sure to have room around each piece so that they weren't steaming each other. I sprinkled them again with a little bit of kosher salt.

Steamed cauliflower for the "fauxtatoes," ready to roast

I roasted the florets in a 350° oven for 30 minutes without tossing them until they were golden on the tops and nicely browned on the bottoms.

Roasted pre-steamed cauliflower

Then I scooped the florets and the garlic cloves into my food processor, dropped in half a stick of butter (true Paleo-ers would not use any dairy), ground in some freshly ground black pepper, and puréed for about a minute. I scraped down the sides and puréed for another minute. I kept repeating this until the mixture was almost completely smooth. I then added a tablespoon-ish splash of cream and puréed until the fauxtatoes were perfectly smooth.

Here's a glamour shot with lots of Irish butter:

The best mashed "fauxtatoes" you will eat: a puréed cauliflower recipe

When we sat down to dinner, I asked Chef Reiton if he noticed anything different. The first thing out of his mouth: "The consistency! These are like potatoes!"

YAHOOOOO! My experiment worked! But we still brainstormed things we will try next time. What if I didn't roast the florets so long? The browning definitely affected the color of the fauxtatoes, not to mention the taste. While the taste was good, we were interested in seeing what it would be like to roast them just long enough to drive off that excess water, maybe when the tops were just beginning to become brown in spots.

We also thought about eliminating the garlic. Or maybe adding a bit of sour cream instead of cream? How about some herbs? So many things to try! All will taste good, I know, but it will be fun to experiment.

SO. If you've got some diabetics coming to Thanksgiving dinner, or some Paleo eaters, give these fauxtatoes a try. They may just be the best non-potato potato you've been dreaming of! Print the recipe below, and, please, feel free to share what you think in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Recipe for the Best Fauxtatoes Ever!

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