They say the moon makes one do crazy things. This might explain why we decided to cook a quasi-Thanksgiving meal of charcoal grilled turkey and autumnal gratin on Cinco de Mayo on a warm, spring day when the moon was proposed to be the brightest it would be all year. Why else would two semi-normal human beings decide to cook outdoors in the sun over a hot BBQ and to turn on the oven for a few hours of roasting and baking all before an hours long billiard-a-thon waiting to see that globe of luminescence hit its high point in a midnight sky while other more sane specimens were sipping cool cocktails, poolside in the sunny afternoon?
A plump sixteen-pound turkey absent of its legs had been brined for two days. It was then put onto a hot grill with hickory briquettes and pepper tree wood, and was covered and smoked until the temperature reached 145 degrees after two hours. This resulted in a flavorful, meat sitting deliciously on the edge between a hospital coma and a delightful, tryptophan nap.
For the side dish, we made an equally crazy-inspired one-pot hot dish of cauliflower gruyere gratin, which turned out so flavorful I have decided to share the recipe below:
CAULIFLOWER GRUYERE GRATIN
1 small head of cauliflower
1 butternut squash
1 medium yellow onion
12 oz. gruyere, cubed
1 tablespoon, chopped, fresh rosemary
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425.
Cut the head of cauliflower and butternut squash into even chunks. Put into a bowl and add two tablespoons of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper and mix to coat. Place all on parchment paper on a shallow pan and roast for 40 minutes. When done roasting, decrease the oven heat to 400 degrees.
Meanwhile, cut one medium onion into whole slices. Heat a one-quart sauté pan over low heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Place in the onion slices and cover. Heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are jammy and soft.
Get a 10-inch cast iron pan. Place half the roasted cauliflower and half the roasted squash into it as a bottom layer. Pour in the onions. Place in the rest of the squash and cauliflower as a top layer. Cover that with the cubed cheese. Sprinkle in the rosemary evenly and add the walnuts. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is bubbling and brown.
The meal was tummy-filling and helped along by a nice Halter Ranch Rhone white blend bought on an earlier sojourn to Paso Robles.
We can blame the one-eyed singing and pool shooting on nothing else but the moon, which we did manage to catch sight of as the clock turned over into a new day, sitting high above the hills of Southern California.