CAVOLOFIORE AFFOGATO (Cauliflower braised in red wine, cheese and anchovies)

 

Affogato means drowned or smothered or choked in Italian, and which ever way you look at it, in this recipe the cauliflower has been killed off in red wine.

My grandmother Maria was born in Catania and this was one of her ways of cooking cauliflower (called VRUOCCULI AFFUCATI in Sicilian)

The cauliflower is cut into thin slices and assembled in layers: cauliflower, sprinkled with a layer of slivers of pecorino, thinly sliced onion and anchovies. Some recipes also include stoned black olives.

Although the coloured cauliflowers or broccoli can also be used for this recipe, I like the white cauliflower because it becomes rose- tinted by the red wine.

I compress the assembled ingredients, cover it with a circle of baking paper, an ovenproof plate and then put a weight on top (see photo).

It is cooked slowly until all the liquid evaporates and then it can be turned out and sliced like a cake. You may also like to use a non- stick saucepan or as I often do, place a circle of baking paper at the bottom of the pan to ensure that the “cake” does not stick to the bottom. Many recipes add water as the cauliflower is cooking to prevent it from burning, but if you cook it on very gentle heat and in a good quality saucepan with a heavy base, it may not be necessary.

VRUOCCULI AFFUCATI are especially suitable as an accompaniment to a strong tasting dish. Usually it is presented at room temperature or cold (I can remember the left over cauliflower being particularly satisfying as a stuffing for a panino).

INGREDIENTS

cauliflower or broccoli, 1kg
onion, 1large, sliced thinly
pecorino, 50 -100g, sliced thinly
anchovies, 4-5 or more
red wine, 1 glass
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

PROCESSES

Place some olive oil in a deep saucepan (the ingredients are layered).
Add a layer of the cauliflower.
Top with the pecorino cheese, anchovies, ground pepper and onion slices (salt to taste).
Add another layer of the cauliflower and more oil.
Continue with more layers but finish off with a layer of cauliflower on top. Press down the layers with your hands.
Top with more oil and add the wine.
Cover the contents first with either a piece of baking paper or foil cut to size and slightly loose. Put a weight on the top so as to keep all of the layers compressed (see above). There should e a gap around the weight and the saucepan to allow the steam to escape.
Cook on very slow heat for about 40-60 minutes and when the liquid has evaporated, you should also hear the cauliflower sizzle in the oil.

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3 thoughts on “CAVOLOFIORE AFFOGATO (Cauliflower braised in red wine, cheese and anchovies)”

  1. Cauliflower is one of my most favourite veges. What an interesting dish! Does the onion cook down much? I might try it with half the onion for my first effort I think. Thanks for sharing this dish.

  2. Everything cooks down, the anchovies and the cheese melt right down, the onion just becomes an almost invisible part of the same dish.

    My brother cooked his with broccoli and wrote me an email:

    It turned out great.

    The ingredients were all raw when placed into the pan.
    A little thinly sliced onion first, followed by broccoli, chopped anchovies, chopped olives, pecorino cheese, a little more onion, ground pepper, then more broccoli on top. No further added salt.
    Add a good dash of oil and 3/4 glass of red wine. Cover with baking paper and weigh down with a plate with weight on top.
    I cooked it slowly for about I hour until all liquid evaporated. It was not mushy, and it held the shape when cut.

    I hope yours cooks to your satisfaction.
    Marisa

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