Hed Chef: Festive broccoli bake may just convert broccoli haters
Here is a dish that can go from weekend treat to a festive side dish.
The quick and easy broccoli bake has made its appearance at my dinner table several times.
I have tried it with broccoli and even broccolini - and both work.
To hasten the cooking process, I blanch the broccoli.
A former hotel chef-turned-hawker friend shared a tip with me: Add a pinch of sugar to the boiling water as this helps the blanched vegetables retain their colour.
Instead of discarding the cooking liquid, I use it in place of milk for the sauce.
I make a roux using butter and flour, then add the cooking liquid and stir it into a thick sauce.
Adjust the amount of cheese to your own preference. I prefer to let the broccoli florets peek out from the layer of grated cheese so guests know what they are eating.
Grill it, and the melted grated cheese and white sauce can convert broccoli haters.
Watch this space for my saffron butter rice recipe next week.
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- 500g broccoli
- 500ml water
- Pinch of sugar
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 3 garlic cloves (20g), pounded into a paste
- 1 level tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 level tsp salt
- 150g grated cheese
1. Wash and rinse the broccoli and cut into individual florets. Peel the tough skin off the stalk. Slice the stalk diagonally into 3mm-thick slices.
2. Bring water to a boil and add sugar.
3. Place broccoli into the boiling water and cook it for two minutes. Remove the broccoli. Reserve 400ml of water.
4. Place butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat. Once melted, add flour and stir until mixture is thick and smooth.
5. Add the reserved 400ml of water. Stir until the mixture is smooth.
6. Add the garlic paste, smoked paprika, salt and 50g of grated cheese. Stir for 30 seconds and turn off the heat.
7. Transfer half of the sauce into a heatproof baking dish.
8. Arrange the broccoli in a layer in the dish. Spoon sauce over the broccoli. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over the broccoli.
9. Preheat the oven grill to 180 deg C for 10 minutes.
10. Place the broccoli mixture in the oven, on the middle rack. Lower the heat to 170 deg C and bake for eight to 10 minutes until the cheese is browned.
11. Serve hot.