Thursday, February 18, 2010

also, something different with broccoli

This recipe comes from The Hungry Tiger, who got it from Alice Waters's The Art of Simple Food. In the past few weeks I have bookmarked at least four recipes on various blogs that are originally from The Art of Simple Food. Hmm, this makes me wonder if Alice Waters has already done my project for me.

That darn Alice Waters. Always getting there first.

Anyway, long-cooked broccoli intrigued me because it's so different from the usual crisp-tender approach to this vegetable. I think the soft texture makes it more accessible to wee ones' palates as well; Monkey really liked this, even though it's quite lemony.

The Hungry Tiger served the broccoli over pilaf, and that's what I tried first too. (I'll have the pilaf recipe for you a little later, because it's a good staple.) But I felt like there wasn't enough texture contrast between the broccoli and the grains, so when I heated up the leftovers I put it over toasted bread and served it with a poached egg. (The poached egg is becoming a major culinary crutch in our house. On Valentine's Day I even told my husband he was my poached egg on toast, and I really meant it too.)  I liked that setup better, the contrast between the meltingly tender broccoli and the crisp toast, and the runny egg yolk there pulling everything together. So those are the instructions I've given you here.

One note of caution: Don't go overboard with mashing up the broccoli. I think I did, either that or I cut it up into too-small florets to begin with, and I ended up wishing that the dish had just a little big more texture. Let yourself be guided more by what looks good to you than by the recipe (and find some way of getting out your frustrations besides the potato masher, okay?).

Long-Cooked Broccoli with Eggs and Garlic Toast

A big bunch of broccoli (about 1.5 lbs.)
1/4 C olive oil
6 cloves garlic (really)
Big pinch of salt
1 C water
1 lemon
Red pepper flakes
Parmesan or similar cheese

Eggs (1 per person)
2 Tbsp white vinegar

Thick slices of good crusty bread (1 or 2 per person)
1 smallish garlic clove

Cut the broccoli heads into smallish florets. Trim the stems, peel, and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Peel the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Add the broccoli, press the garlic into the pan, add the salt, and saute for a few minutes. (If you don't have little ones at your table, you can also add the red pepper flakes at this point--I wait and add them to each serving at the end.) Add the water and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down very low and cover the pot. Cook until the broccoli is very, very tender, almost melting--the recipe I have says 30 to 40 minutes and it was closer to 30 minutes for me, so check and keep an eye on it.

After the broccoli has been cooking for about 15 or 20 minutes, fill a large skillet with water. Add the vinegar and a big pinch of salt, cover and turn the heat on high to bring it to a boil. Crack each egg into a small bowl. When the water boils, slide each egg into the water, quickly turn off the heat (if you are on an electric stove remove the pan from the burner) and cover the pan. Let the eggs poach in the residual heat for 3 minutes, then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.

When the broccoli is done, uncover the pan and use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to break up the broccoli a little bit.  If there's too much water turn the heat up for a few minutes to boil it off. Grate the zest of the lemon into the pan and squeeze its juice in too.

Meanwhile toast the bread. Peel the last clove of garlic. When the bread is done, rub each slice of toast with the garlic clove--just hard enough to start to grate the garlic so that little bits of garlic come off on the bread. (I never believed that this would work until I tried it, but it really does.)

To serve, place a piece or two of toast on a plate, spoon a generous amount of the broccoli over top, sprinkle with a little bit of crushed red pepper, then add a poached egg, and grate a big flurry of Parmesan cheese over top.

Makes 3 or 4 servings.

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