I know the thought of overcooked broccoli won’t make anyone’s mouth start watering. The image that springs to mind is the over-boiled, mushy, waterlogged vegetables from our childhood. Now everything is cooked “crisp tender” and thank goodness for that. Except, maybe not. This recipe for broccoli cooked for two hours (yes, 2 hours) is probably the best broccoli I’ve tasted. Think more of a broccoli confit. The broccoli is cooked in a bath of olive oil that’s been infused with garlic, red chilli and anchovy. The only trick is to be very careful when you’re turning the broccoli and when plating as it’s so tender you could easily end up with mush, it would still taste great though. The other thing is to make sure you’re heat is very very low and to use a heat diffuser if you have one. I have an induction stove so can get my hotplate down to a very gently heat. This is great as a side dish to any meat or fish but would also be a delicious way to prepare broccoli for a pizza or bruschetta.
Ingredients – Serves 4-6 Adapted from Roy Finamore at Food52.com
2 bunches (about 1kg) broccoli
1 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 small chilli peppers, halved lengthwise (or even a big pinch of red chile flakes)
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating, cut the florets off the broccoli, keeping them in fairly large pieces.
When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and cover the pot to bring it back to a boil quickly. Blanch the broccoli for five minutes. Drain.
Put olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the chillies and anchovies. Cook, giving a stir or two, until the anchovies melt.
Add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper (be quite generous with the salt, you’ll be surprised with how much it can take) and stir well.
Cover the skillet, turn the heat to very low, and cook for two hours. Use a spatula to turn the broccoli over in the skillet a few times, but try not to break it up. It will very tender when done.
Gently transfer the broccoli to a serving dish. It’s delicious hot or at room temperature.