The Key to Crispy Cauliflower
In the culinary world, there are two ways to achieve browning: caramelization and the Maillard Reaction. In its simplest terms, caramelization occurs from the browning of sugars at high temperatures. In contrast, the Millard Reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids (proteins) and sugars at high temperatures. Both caramelization and the Maillard Reaction will lead to the browning of your food.
In the AH way of eating, raw sugars are reduced significantly – but, there are still natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and other products that can be used to facilitate browning. For example, adding a bit of homemade extra thick applesauce to the outside of your chicken or tofu will enhance the effect of the Maillard Reaction. The sugars from the applesauce will interact with the amino acids (proteins) in the chicken or tofu, creating a brown color. Furthermore, cooking at high temperatures will cause quicker release of water, making for a crispier texture.
The Secret Behind Chef Kenzie’s Crispy Cauliflower Recipe…
To make this crispy cauliflower, Chef Kenzie coats the cauliflower in a carrot-tahini sauce. The carrots provide sugars while the tahini provides a bit of protein (just enough to get the effects of the Maillard Reaction). Cooking the cauliflower at high temperatures on convection setting (or an air fryer) also facilitates water evaporation creating a crispy exterior!
The technique of combining sugars with proteins to facilitate browning can be applied to many different recipes. Marinating chicken or vegetarian proteins in a vegetable- or fruit-based marinade can help increase the sugars and create a Maillard Reaction. For example, try using a carrot-, apple-, pear-, pineapple-, or parsnip-based marinade for your protein. These slow carbohydrate ingredients will add just enough sugar to kickstart the Maillard Reaction and get that beautiful brown exterior!
How do you use the Maillard Reaction in your cooking? Share your thoughts below or snap a picture and post in our Facebook Group. We always love to see what you can come up with!