Monday, 19 March 2012

Long-Cooked Broccoli: aka Broccoli That Is The Opposite Of Raw

Raw broccoli is not an interest of mine. It tastes too much like what I imagine an actual plant or fern would taste - and yes I know how ridiculous that sounds given that it is of course a plant itself, but it tastes too grassy and woody and just plain raw when it's uncooked for me to ever want to eat it in that state.

This will become "luscious, unctuous"...yeesh.
I love it steamed, though, and especially roasted...and now, now my friends, I have found the best possible broccoli recipe EVER. You will balk at how long you cook the broccoli for - about two hours! - but I swear, it transforms this familiar vegetable into the most luscious, unctuous dish ever. It's not at all reminiscent of the gross, over-boiled vegetable that you may know from childhood. It is AWESOME. You blanch it briefly in boiling water, then you saute it on low, with some garlic, chilies, and anchovy paste...add a heavy hand with the olive oil and you will open the pot after a seemingly stupid long time elapses and you will find heaven. I'm not even exaggerating. I seriously loved this so much. Also, don't be hating on anchovy paste. It doesn't taste fishy, for reals. It just adds depth and a kind of earthiness, or something, to the dish, and it's absolutely crucial. Trust.

Long-Cooked Broccoli
adapted from Food52:

1 big head of broccoli, florets cut into fairly large chunks, and stalks cut into 1/2 inch coins  (broccoli stalks always hit the trash too fast, and they're perfectly delicious - I chop off the very end, and then peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler - then slice away)
3 big cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
3 small red or green chilies, halved vertically      (for this recipe, you want the thin, long-ish chilies, often called thai chilies) 
anchovy paste, about half of a 56 gram tube      (I checked the tube, it's actually 56 grams)
olive oil, about a quarter cup
salt and pepper

Broccoli, I never knew what you were capable of.

So, set a bit pot of water to boil. Once it's boiling, (carefully) plop in your stalks and florets, and leave them to boil for 5 minutes. Drain them off. Once the broccoli has gone into the water, heat up the olive oil over medium heat in the biggest frying pan you have (that has a lid - if not just use a plate. Man, I am FULL of good ideas). Add in your sliced garlic. Once the garlic starts to sizzle in the oil, add the chilies and the anchovy paste. Let it all sizzle together for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to low. Once you remove the broccoli from the boiling water, put it into the pan with the garlic, chilies and anchovy paste.  Give it a good stir, and cover the pan. Let it do its thing, on low, for about an hour and half. No joke. Stir it maybe three or four times throughout, and taste for salt and pepper and add if you think it needs it. Anchovy paste is pretty salty, so watch out for that. The dish will come out at the other end as a rich, luscious, unctuous (ah, just kidding, I have other words!) mushy-but-in-the-best-way broccoli.  

It's long-cooked broccoli on pasta, but from a dream!

I served this whole green mess on penne rigate. It's ridged penne, okay? I also grated some parmesan over top at the end, just to gild the lily, as I am wont to do. You will honestly have a deeper respect for what broccoli is capable of after you make this. Not to mention what a low heat bath in garlic, anchovy, and chilies can do for a vegetable you thought you knew.

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