Broccoli Cooked Forever / by Amy Cantu

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I cannot rave more about this broccoli . . . confit? Sauce? Butter? Stuff that I could eat straight from the pot with a spoon? Whatever you want to call it, Roy FInamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever is truly magical. Normally broccoli cooked for longer than a few quick minutes conjures up words like soggy, mushy, stinky, and other rather unpleasant thoughts. I assure you, that this broccoli is none of that. Cooked slowly in a bath of rich olive oil, slivers of garlic, piquant peppers, and umami-rich anchovies, the broccoli transforms into this ethereal substance that tastes almost sinful when spread over slices of toasted rustic bread, smeared onto a pizza such as in Pizza Two Ways, tossed into a pasta, or spooned over softly scrambled eggs. It even makes a fantastic sandwich spread or topping for fish or chicken with a squeeze of lemon. You get the idea.

Notes: I did not change one thing about this recipe, but here are a few thoughts and tips.  I used the option for red pepper flakes, since that's what I had on hand. One cup of oil sounds like a lot, but honestly, that's also what makes it so delicious. You could certainly get away with using less oil, but then it won't quite produce the same richness. Please use a large pan for this recipe (not a stock pot or dutch oven) and don't buy pre-cut broccoli florettes. I once made this in a dutch oven with an extra pound of broccoli, using pre-cut florettes, and less olive oil. It was not the same. It was, dare I say it, tasteless mush. The broccoli needs to be cut into very large pieces (see the photos below) in order to keep just enough texture in the final product, so that it isn't pasty. It also needs the extra surface area from a large pan for the flavors to concentrate properly and not just steam. Also, even if you think you don't like anchovies, I swear that you will not taste anything remotely fishy. The anchovies add a deep, savory flavor that the broccoli wouldn't achieve on it's own. Don't leave it out! OK, if you really, really want to leave it out, you can. But maybe substitute some chopped capers for something a little different. I'm also considering giving cauliflower or butternut squash the same cooking treatment, and I imagine only great things!

Recipe from Roy Finamore's cookbook, Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day, and can also be found here.

Time: 20 minutes (2 hours inactive time)
Servings: 4 to 6

2 bunches (2-2 1/4 pounds) broccoli
1 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 small hot peppers, halved lengthwise (Finamore likes small red peppers, but you can substitute green Thai chiles, various dried ones, even a big pinch of red chile flakes)
4 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, leaving them in large pieces. Peel the stems and cut them into rather thick slices, about 1/3 inch.

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 hot peppers and anchovies. Cook, giving a stir or two, until the anchovies melt. Add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper, 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 be very tender when done.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to a serving dish. It is delicious hot or at room temperature.