Long Reads

Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever

January 13, 2012

Every week, Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: How to save overcooked broccoli? Keep cooking it.

broccoli cooked forever

- Kristen

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Broccoli, cooked forever -- it sounds pretty terrible, doesn't it? You're having a bad cafeteria flashback right now, aren't you? Stay with me.

We've all been groomed to expect not a shade past crisp-tender. Steam it to the point that even one tendril turns yellow, or it starts to emit that creeping sulfurous-funk smell -- and we think we've ruined the whole pot.

And to a degree, we're right. Broccoli overcooked carelessly tastes stale and murky. It brings us back to what now seems a less enlightened time, when people were afraid of their vegetables acting like themselves.

broccoli

But when you push beyond that disappointing just-too-done state (and throw in a whole lot of olive oil bubbling lazily with garlic, anchovy, and hot peppers) you find yourself with a miraculous substance.

For sharing this rather heretical technique, we can all thank FOOD52er cookbookchick, who discovered it in Tasty, the 2007 James Beard Award-winning cookbook by Roy Finamore.

tastyroy finamore

Finamore is an accomplished cookbook editor who in recent years began writing (very good, very funny) cookbooks himself. This recipe is a spinoff of one he learned from Nancy Silverton -- you remember Nancy.

Here's what "forever" really means: You boil your trimmed stems and florets for five minutes, then drain and slip them into their olive oil bath, covered, for two whole hours. Surely some of the vitamins are cooked right out of it, but if you're worried about that, go eat a kale salad instead.

broccoli  broccoli cooked forever  broccoli cooked forever

"The blanching is to send the broccoli on its way to foreverland, softening it just a bit so it starts absorbing the flavors in the oil," Finamore explained in an email. "It also ensures that the broccoli doesn’t fry and get crisp at the beginning, when the oil is at its hottest."

I want to call the result broccoli butter, but it's more appropriately broccoli confit. The florets trap all the oil's richness, and the stems melt away without provocation.

It would be fitting spooned up onto some sturdy bread, blanketing a good ridged pasta, layered onto a pizza, or anointing a sandwich (you better believe it made its way into #amandaskidslunch).

Best of all: No sulfur smell, just the scent of lovely confiting garlic and friends. Broccoli cooked forever is starting to sound downright romantic, isn't it?

broccoli cooked forever

Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever

From Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006)

Serves 4 to 6

2 bunches (2 to 2 1/4 pounds) broccoli
1 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 small hot peppers, halved lengthwise
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

See a slideshow and the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Want more genius? TryNorthern Spy's Kale Salad(the opposite of Broccoli Cooked Forever).

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

 

Photos by James Ransom

 

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31 Comments

wildgourmet March 15, 2015
i was taught a "recipe", really a way of cooking broccoli, similar to this many years ago by an italian friend. my way starts with rendering sweet and/or hot italian sausage, or pancetta, and setting it aside. drain the fat from the pan but don't clean it. add olive oil gently warmed, cracked black peppercorns, the broccoli (either raw or blanched) fresh garlic, chopped or sliced, thinly sliced onions, crushed red pepper, and flat parsley either chopped or chiffonade. cook gently, either covered or not, for at least an hour to hour and a half, then add up to an equal amount of cannelini beans and the rendered pork product. adjust oil so that the ragout is always moist, as well as the seasonings, adding some fresh parsley just before serving. i've always served it with grating cheese.
 
maggiesara March 18, 2012
Bakeaholic, sounds like a job for (insert dramatic music) The FLAMETAMER. You know, those perforated metal disks you can pick up at the hardware store for about eight bucks. It will do a good job of ratcheting down the heat on your burners. <br /> <br />I haven't made this recipe yet -- though I will -- but I love long-cooked broccoli in olive oil with heaps of onions. My favorite way to use it is an omelette filling, ideally with a few crisp fried croutons thrown in. And if you happen to have a little goat cheese lying around (fresh or aged, both are delicious) and wanted to grate or crumble that into your broc, before folding it into the omelette and topping the filling with a scant handful of your crispies....OH. MY. GOODNESS. <br /> <br />Second-best broccoli dish in the world, s'far as I'm concerned. The first, of course, is the stupidly delicious broccoli sandwich at No. 7 Sub.
 
Molly March 10, 2012
I have a finicky stovetop and the burners don't turn down as much as they should for something this low and slow. Any thoughts on how to do this in the oven instead?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 12, 2012
Bakeaholic, I have the same issue with some of my burners. You want it to be at a very low simmer, with bubbles barely, lazily breaking the surface, or else the broccoli will completely fall apart. If your stovetop is making it bubble too vigorously, I'd put it in the oven at 250 F or so and check on it occasionally to make sure it's behaving.
 
kellyrossiter February 8, 2012
I was a bit surprised when my husband went nuts over this recipe. We loved it. I had a fair bit leftover, so I added some stock and pureed it and had the most intensely flavoured broccoli soup. Really rich tasting, you would swear it had cream in it, but it didn't. Substituting capers for the anchovies. I was thinking about trying it with miso for a vegetarian version.
 
BlueKaleRoad January 24, 2012
After reading Tamar Adler's "An Everlasting Meal" I have looked at well/overcooked veggies in a new light. I love the addition of anchovies and chile pepper. Can't wait to try this one - thanks for sharing!
 
jwlucas January 18, 2012
Honestly, I was disappointed. The broccoli pretty much disintegrated and the result looked like lumpy, oily pesto. Tossed leftovers with pasta and lemon juice. Won't be making this again.
 
Cedarglen January 17, 2012
Sorry, but No Thanks. If/when I overcook a pan of broccoli, I'll toss it and start again. Why? This semi-dead stuff is simply not worth the cost of the olive oil that I use. I hate to be the crumudgeon here, but this recipe is a waste of otherwise valuable space. And thanks for posting it.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
That was my gut reaction when cookbookchick first told me about it too (I think it's everyone's!) but seriously, this is a don't-knock-it-till-you've-tried-it situation.
 
molly_stevens January 17, 2012
Genius, indeed! I love this recipe. One of many recipes I make again and again from Roy's wonderful book "Tasty".
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Thanks so much, Molly! Would love to know the others you return to.
 
Dr.Insomnia January 16, 2012
What a fortuitous recipe post - I had a very large head of broccoli bought on discount from our farmer's market (slightly frostbitten), and I thought I what better use of it then this recipe. Outstanding! Dried New Mexican red chiles took it up a notch, and I opted to cook it in the dutch oven instead of a skillet, which worked out well.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Fantastic! And great call on the Dutch oven -- you probably didn't have to worry as much about escapees.
 
jwlucas January 15, 2012
Made it tonight -- very tasty but it pretty much fell apart. I think it would be good tossed with pasta.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Sauce & spread-like applications are perfect for this.
 
maradawn January 15, 2012
I have been doing this with left-over broccoli for more than 30 years. I always use at a topping for pasta.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Brilliant point about leftovers -- and I always steam way too much for 1 sensible meal.
 
Lismi January 15, 2012
I'm almost ashamed to admit this - but I love overcooked broccoli. Glad to see I can make something 'socially acceptable' and delicious for all, with it, in lieu of being looked at with shock, surprise and wrinkled noses as I happily consume olive green stalks that keel over,
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Lismi, you were just ahead of the curve!
 
pierino January 14, 2012
I made something similar a week ago using broccoli rabe (I like the bitterness in the leaves). Indeed, this is how it's cooked in Italy where they really hammer it and then serve it at room temperature.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Thanks pierino -- I've been wanting to try with rabe. Now it's a sure thing.
 
vvvanessa January 14, 2012
My extended family in Catalonia makes a dish of green beans and potatoes that I call "Veggies Cooked to Death" in my recipe notes. They usually make it in a pressure cooker, and the first time I was served it, I thought there was no way that it would be palatable. But it was delicious, and it's now one of my favorite ways to prepare them (though I don't use the pressure cooker). It's prepared even more simply dressed with just good olive oil and salt. I'm now inspired to add broccoli to the mix!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Yum. When Amanda worked in France, they did something similar with green beans cooked in a wok until they were black.
 
Darlin G. January 13, 2012
Panfusine, I often substitute capers for anchovies when cooking for vegetarians. Gives the same nice, salty bite without the fish!
 
JayKayTee January 15, 2012
Thank you Darlin G! I was just thinking that maybe I could substitute some seaweed for the anchovies. But capers sound great, or as sdebrango suggests - just leave the little buggers out.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. January 18, 2012
Great suggestions on the anchovy question -- thanks everyone!
 
Panfusine January 18, 2012
Capers sound perfect! thanks Darlin G.
 
pierino January 18, 2012
Please spare me from anchovy wimps. Most phobes think they hate them (if they've tasted them at all) because all they've ever experienced have been what I refer to as "pizza anchovies", usually in tins from Morocco and rancid even before they are packed. Good anchovies will melt into a sauce and deliver a subtle "bottom" flavor. When I use them my guests rave about the sauce until I tell them what's in it. What's the foundation for Worchester Sauce? Guess.
 
duclosbe1 January 13, 2012
You had me at broccoli confit.
 
Anitalectric January 15, 2012
Me too!
 
Panfusine January 13, 2012
WOW!! my kids LOVE broccoli, they'd scarf this down. thanks! <br /> can I omit the anchovy to make it vegetarian?