The much-used technique of steaming broccoli can be good, but doesn’t always bring the kind of flavor I look for in a vegetable. What’s worse, more food establishments than I can count go a step further and over-steam it, serving floppy broccoli that has lost its color, texture, and flavor in the process. I’m here to tell you: it doesn’t have to be that way! I discovered this technique for caramelizing broccoli in the oven via America’s Test Kitchen which will revolutionize your views on this humble vegetable. Since broccoli doesn’t have enough natural sugar in it to caramelize naturally like many other vegetables such as carrots or onions, this technique involves . . . helping the green stuff along its way. With a little sugar love. This is one of the best ways I’ve ever eaten broccoli. Make it! It’s easy, and with a 10 minute cook time it’s also super fast.
2 large broccoli crowns
4 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cloves garlic (optional)
Let’s get started–this really couldn’t be easier–but there are a few things that are absolutely necessary to make sure the caramelization process happens to its fullest potential. I’ll walk you through it.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, with the baking sheet inside. Prepare the rack so that the sheet is closer to the element than not. Heating the baking sheet fully is 100% essential in getting the best flavor out of the broccoli.
Now let’s give that broccoli at good washin’.
Why oh why didn’t I focus the above picture properly?? *bashing head against computer* In the little “About” page I wrote when I started this here blog, I explained my terror of one day posting a blurry, non-sharp picture. I imagined hordes of professional photographers descending on me with sticks and stones to punish my incompetence. And now, that day has come. So far, no sticks, no stones, but I’ll keep you posted.
Cut the broccoli into segments. You want them to be on the large side, about the length of the palm of your hand.
Don’t be tempted to cut them into cute, small pieces, because then they won’t roast properly–instead, they’ll just kind of steam away, bringing back the “floppy broccoli” problem we’re trying to avoid. Also, cut them so that there is a flat side on most pieces–just slice right through that broccoli crown (instead of separating off individual florets). You want flat sides for the caramelization to happen.
Mince the garlic . . .
. . . and mix the broccoli, garlic, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper together in a bowl with your hands.
Make sure all the broccoli pieces are coated as evenly as possible.
When the oven is fully preheated (make sure it is! Mine wasn’t, and the roasting didn’t go as well as it normally does), take out the hot sheet pan.
Working quickly, arrange the broccoli on the pan. You’ll hear a delightful sizzle as the broccoli hits the metal surface. Make sure there is some space between the pieces, and always lay each piece with its flat side down.
I have inserted a black arrow in the above picture to show you what NOT to do. That flat side is not down! Turn it over Jenna! C’mon, get with the program!
Zer ve go. Zat is better, ja.
Roast for 10-12 minutes.
I lifted up a piece to examine the underside: not brown enough yet, so I put them back in for 2-3 minutes longer.
Once they are nice and brown, remove and serve!
I dished it up with some parmesan chicken . . . recipe coming at some point.
You could easily sprinkle some lemon juice over it, or some parmesan–but it’s wonderful just as it is.
*Note: a number of people who have made this recipe tell me it’s very kid-friendly. Thanks for the tip, ladies!
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