One year ago, I was less than a month into my new job at Comcast, when it was time for an end of summer potluck/cook off. I rarely have the chance to compete in things that do not require hand-eye coordination or an understanding of basic organized sports.
After years of guessing my way through football and March madness brackets, here was a competition I actually had the skill set for. My confidence paid off, and I made the italian summer salad, Panzanella, and walked away with the appetizer trophy.
This year, my confidence was a given. I had gotten used to seeing that beautiful trophy on my desk, and explaining to others how I became the proud owner. I knew I needed to enter the appetizer category again, so I could win and keep the travelling trophy.
I landed on cauliflower wings being my golden ticket. They’re a vegetarian, paleo, gluten free spin on a fall favorite (#trendy), and they would catch people’s eye. The more people who taste my dish, the more that can vote for me.
As you may know from this blog, my recipes are scrappy. The recipes are made up, the dishes often are as well, and game-time decisions are rooted in what I happen to have in the pantry.
With so much on the line, however, I was motivated to do multiple trial batches of cauliflower wings. Finding recipes from all different trusted sources, I looked for the commonalities and tested out the differences. I feel confident that this recipe is the best cauliflower wing recipe out there. There, I said it.
- 1-2 heads of cauliflower (I used 1.5 for the tray you see above)
- 1 bag of Mill’s almond flour, I probably used 2 cups
- 3-4 eggs
- 2 tbsp old bay seasoning or paprika, garlic powder, and salt/pepper
- 2 cups Frank’s buffalo sauce
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/8 cup butter (optional)
- Baking sheet with tin foil and olive oil/cooking spray
- Chop cauliflower into florets– think about what size you want the “wings” to be
- Pour 2 cups almond flour into separate bowl and mix in seasoning
- Beat eggs in a separate bowl (if you’re not sure how many wings you’ll be making you can start with less and repeat the almond flour and egg steps)
- Set up baking sheet with tin foil and lightly cover it with olive oil or cooking spray. This is an important best practice to keep the “breading” on the cauliflower.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Moving one piece at a time, dunk cauliflower floret in the egg and then roll in it the almond flour. Many other recipes said to put the almond flour in a bag and toss the florets in it until they are COVERED with flour. Absolutely not. Roll it lightly but cover most the surface.
- Place on *lightly oiled* baking sheet, and repeat until full.
- Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, then flip each piece *carefully to not remove breading* and bake for another 20 minutes. Another unique detail here vs. others is that I insist on not adding the sauce until all baking is complete.
- While the wings are baking, mix your sweet and spicy buffalo sauce- Frank’s buffalo sauce (not the spicy buffalo, I made that mistake), agave nectar, and sesame oil. Add melted butter if a creamy texture is desired and there’s no dietary restrictions against it.
- Once wings are finished baking, decide how much sauce you would like to have. For saucier texture and strong flavor, dunk each piece quickly in sauce and set back onto tray. For a more controlled approach, use a spoon to do a heavy drizzle over the wings.
- Note: If you are not serving these on the same day as baking, i.e. potluck, do not apply sauce until time of serving and keep wings in Tupperwares, not refrigerated.
And for all of you wondering, the buzz for the cauliflower wings was unprecedented. When it came time to collect votes, I anxiously awaited the results while trying to pretend I didn’t care at all; as if, perhaps, this was just an office potluck.
They announced the appetizer category was tied. Truly I was crushed. If assuming mine was one of the appetizers tied for first, how in the world did I tie? I wanted to win by a landslide. Unanimous. Maybe it’s good I’m not eligible for many competitions after all.
After wrangling a few more taste testers, the final results came in. The chef of the Reuben meatballs was the new proud owner of the appetizer trophy. I smiled and applauded, just as I learned from all the awards shows. It was confirmed later that I was the other dish originally tied.
Truthfully, it took hours, some would say days, to accept this loss. I cleaned and organized my desk with a more minimalist look and feel, and haven’t noticed the absence of the trophy. As ridiculous as it sounds, I still would have rather gave my heart and soul into a silly competition and still not win, than be too cool or reserved to let myself get swept away at all. I counted my success in the number of requests for this recipe, and awarded myself an A+ for effort. Take this recipe and run with it, you’ve got nothing to lose.