Tuesday, October 28, 2014


As a buffalo-chicken-wing lover and craver, this is a challenging time of year for me. Because we are getting bushels and pecks of stunning late-season produce from our farm share? But we are not getting chicken wings. Not any chicken wings at all.

I'm shy!
And so, with a large head of cauliflower beckoning from the fridge, I Googled Buffalo Cauliflower, fearing the worst.

The recipe--which is *this* recipe--did not give me a hopeful feeling. Why on earth would a batter of rice flour and water become crispy in the oven with no oil? Please. It seemed like one of those fake Pinterest ideas, like lighting an orange half that magically burns like a candle. Like someone was looking for hits, and made up some crazy shit, and who cares.

But, magically, it works. The batter gets crunchy. It soaks up the buffalo sauce. The whole thing turns into the kind of mad-addictive plate of food that you intend to savor for the hour before dinner, only then it turns into a crazy feeding frenzy that ends in 45 seconds, after which everybody is stuffed. (I did the math in my head: this is not a calorically sparse food. But it is nutritionally dense, which is nice.)

Look, you're not going to be chewing crispy, salty, shredding meat off the bones like you'll wish you were, if that's your thing. But you are going to be crunching into deeply flavored, spicy, crispy bites of food that will satisfy you in every other way. Try it and see.

Buffalo Cauliflower
This recipe is based on the one at The Lean Clean Eating Machine, a blog I know only because of my Googling of "buffalo cauliflower." Whereas Mr. (Lean) Clean uses ½ cup Frank’s with just a teaspoon of margarine, I use equal parts butter and Frank’s, because I’m a Buffalo purist. Also a lover of butter, and not vegan. But use whatever you like or need to, preference- or dietary-wise. Don't be tempted to use more oil in the baking stages. You'd think it would make it more crispy, but it just makes it less crispy. I don't know why that is.

Cooking spray (or olive oil)
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup water
¾ teaspoon kosher salt (this is a “pinch” originally, but come on)
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, teased apart with a knife into smallish florets
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce

Heat the oven to 450 and spray a large nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. (When I brushed the sheet with olive oil, the cauliflower stuck a little, but when I sprayed it with cooking spray, it didn’t. I’m just mentioning that.)

Whisk together the rice flour, water, salt, and garlic powder in a small bowl.

Hold each cauliflower piece by its stem end, dip it in the batter, and then lay it on the baking sheet. This will not seem like it’s going to work—it will look like the batter’s all pooling off the cauliflower onto the baking sheet—but trust me, okay? Alternately, you can whisk together the batter in a large bowl, dump all the cauliflower in and mix it around, then pull out individual pieces to lay on the sheet, but I think the other way works better. And it really doesn't take that long. I can't stress enough how much you're going to think this isn't working: the batter will sort of pool off the florets and it will all feel grim and worrisome. Worry not!

Bake for 10 minutes (the batter will have hardened into a crust), and then flip each piece over with a spatula or tongs and bake for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the Frank’s and butter in a small bowl. (I actually measure the Frank’s in a glass cup, then add the butter and melt the whole shebang together in the microwave.)

Take the cauliflower out of the oven and use a pastry brush to brush each piece with the Buffalo mixture. I like to have it so that the florets are resting on their flat sides for this, if they have a flat side. Bake the cauliflower for another 8-10 minutes, until it’s crispy and the sauce looks absorbed.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. The original recipe says 20, and everyone admits that even though it sounds crazy to let it sit, the resting time makes it better, and I find myself strangely agreeing.

Serve with (natch) celery and blue cheese dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing
Makes 2 cups

This is so, so good. If you keep it around, you will eat more salad, I promise.

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled (I used Trader Joe's already-been-crumbled Blue Cheese)
1 cup Hellman's or Best Foods mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire (thank you spell check!) sauce
A dash of granulated garlic powder 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, or with a hand blender, whir all the ingredients together until smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve or chill.


  1. Allyson6:34 PM

    Oh my God. I am making this the minute I can get my hands on brown rice flour. Catherine, you rock.

  2. Erin K.6:43 PM

    I am so glad you posted this with the blue cheese dressing!! I remember ages ago making a blue cheese dressing from your recipe but I couldn't find it anymore - these look great!

  3. This is similar to the Thug Kitchen recipe for sriracha cauliflower that my hubs was looking at last night. Not sure which I should try first!

  4. This looks amazing!!

  5. I made these a while back using this recipe : http://mindovermunch.com/?portfolio=buffalo-cauliflower-bites and they were devoured. Using oat flour - and yogurt.

  6. Sounds yum, but what is the Frank's stuff? I'm in Ireland so never heard of it, do you know of any equivalent?

    1. Lucy, it's a vinegar-based hot sauce. Maybe McCoy's? (I Googled it!)

  7. Ummm duh. I can't believe I never thought of making my own blue cheese dressing.

  8. I heart you and your crazy delicious recipe ideas! As soon as my CSA starts sending cauliflower, this is happening at my house. And PS to any readers who have not yet made the Chicken Wing Magic recipe: do it.

  9. OMG, this is such a good idea. What other vegetables do you guys think we could do this to? All of them?

  10. Anonymous10:06 AM

    That sounds absolutely delicious!!! What a great idea!!! Thank you!

  11. Yay! I'm not a big meat-on-the-bone person so this looks like it's just my thing. And my husband bought two big bottles of Frank's at Costco so ... I can probably make it a lot.

  12. There is a brewery that opened last year on Highway 1 (we are in California, just south of San Francisco) -- we've been there twice, and it is ok, but they have buffalo cauliflower and it is AMAZING. I can't wait to try this version - roasted cauliflower is already a favorite dinnertime thing here. Adding buffalo-ness might make it the new gold standard.

  13. Catherine, because this recipe has your endorsement, I will try it. I love cauliflower, and I love buffalo wings, but.....together? Who knew??

  14. So I made this with regular flour (because I sadly don't have brown rice flour on hand) and it turned out soooooo good. I had to slightly increase the water so it wouldn't be to gloppy. I decreased the amount of butter to 1 T and increased the hot sauce by 2-3 T (just to try to make it a little more healthy.) Mine didn't brown up exactly the same as your pictures but no one seemed to mind. The entire pan was inhaled and my husband wants this added to our permanent rotation!!

  15. too gloppy, not to gloppy. hate it when I publish before proofing!

  16. Do you have to use rice flour? I don't even have cauliflower at home but I want to go buy some pronto. This looks delicious!

  17. Also, I'm dairy-free (nursing baby has a milk allergy). Do you think it would work with vegan butter instead of regular butter?

    1. Yes to both your finaglings! (I think regular flour might work fine.) Please report back.

  18. Just ran across this! http://www.lottieanddoof.com/2014/11/buffalo-cucumber-salad/

  19. Bam! Two thubs up (our family's highest honor) from both my husband and son that are not cauliflower lovers. Until now. Thank you!!!

  20. These are in the oven now and I'm kind of wagering my sanity on them because I want them to work so bad!!! I only had coconut flour on hand and needed a lot more water to even get it to slightly batter-like. Decided to not go overboard to the gloppy side in case that was unique to rice four. Fingers crossed!!

  21. These are in the oven now and I'm kind of wagering my sanity on them because I want them to work so bad!!! I only had coconut flour on hand and needed a lot more water to even get it to slightly batter-like. Decided to not go overboard to the gloppy side in case that was unique to rice four. Fingers crossed!!