I’ve worked in a few cafe’s and restaurants over the years and picked up a lot of tips and tricks from the other staff members and the chefs I worked with. People in the catering industry do things quite differently to how we home cooks have been taught, as for them, time really is money. They have to prep and cook as fast as possible and present their food beautifully, but in a way that can be recreated perfectly over and over again. Some of the culinary tricks I have been taught really aren’t necessary to use at home, such as spooning the seeds out of cucumbers before adding them to salads to keep the salad fresher for longer. But when it comes to prepping cauliflower, after I learned this trick, I’ve never gone back.
This method can, of course, be used with broccoli as well, but in the UK the broccoli we get in the supermarkets tend to already be trimmed, so you can just chop it up and chuck it in the pan. Cauliflower however, usually still has it’s outer leaves on, and so makes preparing it more of a faff. You find yourself peeling leaf after leaf wondering when you are actually going to get to the veg and wishing there was an easier way. Well there is, and I’m going to let you in on it:
Instead of peeling the leaves off your cauliflower (or broccoli if it’s untrimmed) turn it upside down on a chopping board so the stalk is facing upwards.
Using a small sharp knife, cut a deep circle into the veg (get the whole blade in there) going around the stalk. As you cut, the leaves will fall away:
You’ll be left with a bulbous stalk which you can just remove with you hands, and the veg.
Now that you’ve removed the stalk, you can break the cauliflower up into florets with your hands. Just snap each little tree off.
When you get to the very top of the cauliflower, you may find that the last few florets are still firmly attached to each other. Just chop these ones up with the knife.
This whole process takes just a couple of minutes, and will give you perfect cauliflower or broccoli florets without fighting with layer upon layer of leaves.