Heston Blumenthal’s Broccoli

I was flipping through a cookbook at a friends house this weekend, nothing really caught my eye when I see Heston Blumenthal’s method for cooking broccoli. I love broccoli, so much so that for years I ate it multiple times a week, all year long. And then we all grew sick of it.. Steamed, dressed with lemon and olive oil, plunked down on a plate at yet another evening meal, oh, it was all just so boring.,
. A few sentences instructing me to simply scorch the stuff in a hot pan and shake things about a bit before dumping it out on a plate. It sounded…almost too good to be true. Too easy. I was suspicious.
But, of course, I needn’t have been. After all, if you’re a world-famous chef with Michelin stars and a television show and bestselling books and you’re still doling out tips for dealing with the humble broccoli that feature nary a foam or emulsion or reduction or sous-vide treatment or sprinkling of foie gras or coating of caviar, I’ll be the first admit that it’s silly to mistrust you.
Okay, so here’s what you do:
wash a head of broccoli, or whatever comes wrapped in a rubber band and sold as one “head” of broccoli at the grocery store and lop off all the florets so that they’re approximately the same size. Then peel the stalk of the broccoli, if you feel like it, (don’t if you don’t) and slice it into thinnish coins (1/4-inch thick? 1/2-inch is fine, too). Take a heavy-bottomed pan and pour a couple of spoons of olive oil in it. Set it over high heat until the oil starts to smoke and then dump the broccoli into the smoking pan all at once and cover it quickly with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes with no peeking. Take the lid off, season the broccoli with salt and pepper, put on oven mitts and grab the handles of the pot to shake the broccoli around a little bit, add a tiny bit of butter (I used about a tablespoon) and then put the pot back over the flame, covered, for 2 more minutes. At this point, you can test the broccoli and see if it’s cooked enough for your liking. If it’s not, put the top back on and cook for a final 2 minutes. It should be scorched in spots and still quite green in others.
This swift, high-heat method concentrates the flavor of the broccoli, but still cooks the broccoli through. The seared spots are toasty and delicious. I’m not quite sure what the addition of butter does; I suppose it contributes a richness of flavor, but I think you could probably attempt this without it and it’d still be good. We dumped the broccoli into a bowl and gobbled the whole head up in a matter of minutes.