Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Crack Broccoli


Picture a lemon wedge off to the side. Right?

Only my friend Maddie could make a vegetable that would get nicknamed “Crack Broccoli”—and that would be the first thing to disappear at a party where it was placed among such delights as chips and dip, oozing triple-cream cheese, and ginger-prosecco cocktails. Children literally shoved aside bowls of candy to grab at the vanishing broccoli, and you know I don’t use the word “literally” figuratively. So I asked for the recipe.

And I am sharing it here, now, because I am not a juice-fast-January kind of person. But I am a vegetable-January kind of person. In the past two weeks, I have eaten chocolate-caramel walnuts, gravlax, and cider-glazed ham. I have eaten pickled shrimp, pork meatballs, and all the Good-and-Plenty roof tiles from my children’s gingerbread houses. And I am full in a bad way. I feel like the “before” photo for a spa or the "after" photo for some kind of human inflating device: creased and puffy and so tired that all I can say is, “I’m so tired.” And now I’m sitting here, with my tired pink face squashed into my hand, trying to think of something funny to add. I’m so tired?

I'm tired too! 
Probably I should just eat the whole head of broccoli raw. But that’s not really my style. This, however, is exactly my style: broccoli perfectly tender, perfectly browned, a little bit sweet and just this side of too salty, and utterly addictive. It’s the first recipe that has allowed me to make roasted broccoli that was neither burnt nor underdone nor simultaneously burnt and underdone. We’re going to eat it at room temperature with fresh whole-grain bread and a nice big piece of cheddar cheese, and we’re going to call it dinner.

Oven-Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4
Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 20 minutes

Maddie, who is very “Pish-posh, a baby could make it,” when you ask her for any of her recipes, directed me to America’s Test Kitchen for this, and sure enough I googled and found it. And I wouldn’t let a baby make it, but it is definitely easy. And there won’t be any left. As requested, here are links for all the kitchenware shown here. This incredibly awesome knife, this awesome rimmed baking sheet, and this love-of-my-life prep bowl.

1 large head broccoli
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Lemon wedges, for serving (I keep forgetting this, but I’m sure it would be good)

Peel the broccoli with a sharp paring knife as best as you’re able. The thick peel will keep the broccoli from going fully tender, so you really do want to remove it.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Cut the stem off of the broccoli, and cut it into long, ½-inch thick pieces. Cut the rest of the broccoli into long, fairly narrow florets, then put it in a bowl, drizzle it with the oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with the salt and sugar, and toss to combine. (The sugar helps it brown, so please don’t omit it.)

Working quickly, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the broccoli to the baking sheet and spread it in an even layer, placing it flat sides down wherever possible.

Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the stalks are well browned and tender and the florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges (if you remember).

This was very wilty-seeming broccoli. Which I actually prefer to that dry, yellow broccoli--the kind where you put the parings in the compost bucket and then all day everybody wonders aloud who farted. 
Peeled, trimmed, and floretted.
We're not talking about a lot of ingredients here.
Did I mention that you really have to use your hands to coat it with the oil, salt, and sugar? You really do. You even have to kind of massage it a little so that it all looks oily.
The top side looks fine. But when you start looking underneath, you'll really understand how gorgeous it has become.


52 comments:

  1. I have to try this. Any recipe called Crack *insert vegetable here* is absolutely worth a try.

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  2. Nancy3:04 PM

    I love your column but in this recipe I see the problem I have with recipes. I actually cook daily, but don't have huge knife skills. I see the terms peeled, trimmed and florretted for the broccoli and I have no clue what to do, not do I own a knife that will make it easier, so I don't make this dish (esp. since it says the food won't cook right if I don't do this right). Please tell me how to peel the broccoli, as it seems like why should you peel it if you are trimming it,and oh, I am lost and sad. and recommend a knife from that company you like...

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    1. Peel the stem of the broccoli with a vegetable peeler or knife. There is a woody outer coating on the thick stem that stops when it reaches the eating end of the broccoli. A floret is what you call the end of the broccoli that most people are accustomed to eating. The recipe just says to peel the woody outer layer of the stem, chop the stem up into long pieces, and slice the florets into long pieces as well. There are pictures of it. Look at them.

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    2. Anonymous5:32 AM

      Rude.your comment was almost helpful and not condescending.

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  3. Love the photo of Craney. That's an awesome shot!!

    Thanks for the broccoli recipe. We really need this after the festival of holiday gorging at our house:-)

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  4. did we come too late for the crack broccoli? damn!

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  5. I subscribe to a bunch of recipe blogs, and I wasn't really paying attention to who I was reading when this came up in my feed reader -- until I got to the part about the compost smelling like someone farted.

    And then I was like, "Who is this ...? Oh, Catherine Newman, of course!"

    (Which is to say, it's reassuring to know that my compost isn't alone in stinking up the kitchen.)

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  6. Yum! Thanks for sharing. Love America's Test Kitchen recipes. I don't think I've tried one yet that we didn't love.

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  7. mmm. do you have the cookie sheet lined with a silpat, or am i imagining that? we've been making brussels sprouts on top of the stove that are crack-like - just cut in half and cooked cut side down until done. yum.

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  8. That looks delicious! I'll try it asap since broccoli is already a favorite veggie at our house. Thanks!

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  9. Erin K.5:57 PM

    This is great with Nutritional Yeast sprinkled on before roasting too - though I've never used sugar - curious - making broccoli exciting is always a good thing :)

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  10. Yum! We are trying this for dinner!

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  11. I made something like this for our New Year's celebration. I must have reached critical mass in reading your blog, because I thought of you and the annual vegetable longing. Veggies are so good after everything butter and sugar. Thanks for the post.

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  12. A good addition to my old stand-bys from Catherine, Crack Brussels Sprouts and Crack Cauliflower! I was making steamed broccoli tonight, but no more...

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  13. Oh yum! I made this last night with a head of broccoli I had virtuously purchased in an attempt to wean my family off its outrageously bad holiday eating habits. It must be the little bit of sugar, because I've roasted broccoli in the past but this was much more delicious. Didn't have a lemon handy but I did grate a little fresh parm over the top after I took it out of the oven. Thank you!

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  14. dannit3:39 AM

    We had it for dinner and we loved it. With the lemon which was good but not essential. Thanks! Yum!

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  15. maxanyamom5:29 PM

    @Nancy - Don't be discouraged! It really isn't hard to peel broccoli. I use my peeler for the job, after I've cut off the top portion, but that apparently isn't the easiest way to do it. And when confounded with kitchen tasks (or any of life's tasks) don't forget the handy internet! I googled "peeling broccoli instructions" and found this link:

    http://localfoods.about.com/od/broccoli/ss/brocstem.htm

    It wasn't the only link I found, so if you don't find it helpful, please don't give up!! You can do it, I've no doubts!

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  16. Found this recipe just before dinner last night. It was a big hit with the whole family, and SO EASY to make! Thanks for another great recipe, Catherine.

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  17. Made this tonight and remembered the lemon. We all went nuts over it. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. mrs.craig11:51 PM

    We have some broc in the fridge and our girls LOVE it, so I can't wait to make this tomorrow. Sounds DELISH. Thank you!

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  19. Just tried this recipe and devoured the entire head of broccoli in under a minute. Must. Have. More. WOW.

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  20. "It’s the first recipe that has allowed me to make roasted broccoli that was neither burnt nor underdone nor simultaneously burnt and underdone." Oh, Catherine. EXACTLY. This is just what happens to me. We're trying this tonight!

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  21. Had to report that we did indeed make and devour this tonight. Thanks, Catherine! It went well with our pasta with bacon and breadcrumbs (from Mark Bittman's "Kitchen Express" cookbook.)

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  22. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and made it for dinner tonight. It was AMAZING!

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  23. @ Nancy. Do you have a potato/carrot peeler? I've made this a few times and using a peeler makes it totally easy. You then basically can just cut it as you would if you were steaming broccoli, then take those pieces and cut them in half or quarters so that there's a flat side. Catherine just tends to use very eloquent and descriptive language, but I assure you my cat could prepare this, and you won't be sorry when you taste it! :)

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  24. this looks delish!

    http://forallthatjas.blogspot.com/

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  25. This was crazy good. We will make this again. And again. There were fights and frets at the table about who would get to eat it all. Equally good with and without lemon.

    @Nancy: I have not-good knife skills, so I used a veggie peeler to take the outer stuff off and tried to cut it to give flat sides, which I then tried to be sure were on the cookie sheet. It totally worked. Please try.

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  27. Unbelievably good. I could have eaten the whole thing by myself. I'm so glad I found this on Pinterest.

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  28. Made this again tonight! And we actually had lemon on hand and remembered it. It was just as good without it I think.

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  29. I guess you guys don't care about health adding sugar. But I'll try this without the sugar. I'm not feeding my kids frosted vegetables.

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  30. Anonymous4:26 PM

    1/2 teaspoon of sugar will most certainly not constitute frosting vegetables. conversely, soulstich, it appears that you do care about adding a meager 1/2 tsp of sugar to an entire head of broccoli? fun crusher.

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  31. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Kids need sugar for brain development. While I don't let my kid go to town on candy, I would let him
    Consume a normal amount on broccoli.

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  32. I did this with a different vegetable: acorn squash, and it was TASTY! They are a BITCH to peel (sure there is SOME GENIUS way to peel them that I don't know about) but it was pretty worth it.

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  33. Anonymous12:03 AM

    I made this the other night from another recipe. Very simple. I didn't use sugar just olive oil salt and pepper. I also used frozen broccoli(thawed out) and it was delicious!!! There was no need for sugar, it carmelized on its own. I just kept tossing every 5-10 minutes! So delicious I just made a batch by itself last night!!

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    1. Anonymous3:06 PM

      This has been a hit with my family for years. Don't stress about your knife skills - just cut similar size florets and trim off most of the stalk. Right before serving, I toast a handful of pine nuts and toss them in along with a 3 tbs each of melted butter and fresh lemon juice.

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  34. Anonymous10:08 PM

    I just made this, and it's ok, but I can't see kids pushing candy out of the way for it...

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  35. I've made this twice already... It's delicious and so easy to make! Each time I've reduced the amount of salt. I think I'll omit the salt next time. Absolutely delicious!

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  36. Anonymous6:39 PM

    This was SO GOOD. My boyfriend declared it "best broccoli he's ever had." I'm about to make it again for my family this week. Genius!

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  37. Yumm!!! I added garlic - not on purpose, for some reason I thought that the recipe said that. It was incredible. Im sure if would have been incredible without as well. Just an idea if you want to change things up. Thanks for the idea!

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  38. Thanks so much for this easy recipe. I msy never steam broccoli again. Smells like kettle corn in the oven!

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  39. really, really yummy just out of the oven. not quite as good cold... by the time i got my three kids to sit dow and husband came home late stuck in traffic. next time i will start herding them to the table as soon as i put it in the oven! i ate it all:) so good.

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  40. Emily8:22 PM

    This recipe is delicious - I've made it a dozen times already. I use a potato peeler to remove the thick peel. I toss the broccoli in olive oil in a bowl then place on a cookie sheet. Once the broccoli is spread evenly across the cookie sheet, I sprinkle sugar and a tiny amount of salt. It was too difficult to toss the broccoli with sugar & salt in a bowl - large amounts were getting stuck in the "head" of the broccoli making it too salty or too sweet. This way it spreads out more easily.
    Enjoy!

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  41. Sarah8:36 PM

    Delicious!!! And oh-so-very-easy to make. Instantly a favorite recipe for me.

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  42. OMG this really is CRACK broccoli! SOOOO good!

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  43. Anonymous1:16 PM

    could you use butter instead of olive oil?

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  44. really is crack! delish.

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  45. Anonymous1:18 PM

    I made this last week. It was so good! Even my 6 year old daughter loved it. We grow broccoli in our garden and always have a ton so I love that I found this awesome recipe. Thanks for sharing!

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  46. Anonymous2:52 PM

    I find steamed broccoli boring so this looks yummy! I can't wait to get a head (or two) of broccoli and make this! I think I'll add a dash of garlic (I love garlic). Thank you!!

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  47. Anonymous8:21 PM

    is this really safe to eat? i read that heating extra virgin olive oil that much causes it to become toxic

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  48. ummm, you can peel broccoli? New thing learned!

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