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The Cast Of Characters

The Cast Of Characters

The title of this dish is misleading.  I mean, how easy is it to steam broccoli in a combi oven?  Set the settings, put it in, wait a few minutes.  No, that would not be satisfactory in the least.  We’re trying to do something different here.  And certainly, so are the authors of Modernist Cuisine.  Turns out it is better to call it Broccoli Three Ways.  Or The Broccoli Trinity.  Power Broc Triple Threat, perhaps. With our humble plant from the cabbage family, we are going to not just steam it, but fry it and pickle it as well.  And throw some cured fatback on top for good measure.  OK, now we’re talking.

Brining The Broc

Sometimes you just work with what you have.   For instance, the first agenda item was to create a pickling brine.  This required water, sugar, salt, rice vinegar and sherry vinegar.  Mm, let’s see here: I have apple, balsamic, grape, red wine, rice and Cabernet Sauvignon vinegars, but no sherry.  I do have a bottle of fino sherry, but it’s not a vinegar.  Do I really have to go out and buy another vinegar just for this recipe? I decided to change the flavor profile a bit and went with the Cabernet Sauvignon. I only had baker’s sugar on hand. Is that OK?  Oh, why not. I mixed the ingredients together, brought it to a simmer, then pulled it off the heat.  Brine accomplished.

Next I chopped up a broccoli stem, some shallots, added some currants and poured the brine over the whole lot and set it aside to let it do its pickling thing.

Broccoli Stem
Food To Be Pickled
Pickling In Progress

A Steam And Fry Combo In The Combi

Steamed Broccoli

Next up was straight foward.  I took some broccoli florets and steamed them in the combi oven for eight minutes at 90C/195F.  I then took some smaller florets, mixed them with some oil, and fried them in the combi with 0% humidity at 450F, the highest my oven will go.  The recipe says 520F, but you got to work with what you have, right?  I kept them in a little longer.

The Final Dish

Salting to taste, the broccoli and pickled veggies were combined with a little chili oil and roasted pumpkin seeds.  I added the brine to taste and draped some strips of lardo over the dish.  I probably should have bought raw seeds and toasted them myself.  I probably should have checked the ‘see page 230’ on the chili oil but I had some sitting in my fridge.  Shortcuts?  I suppose.  Did it work?  Oh yes it did.

Combi Oven-Steamed Broccoli

The most interesting thing about this dish for me was the combination of textures.  You have the crunch of the pumpkin seeds, the chewiness of the currants, the soft snap of the broccoli and the creaminess of the lardo all interacting.  There was the sweetness of the currants, the tartness of the pickled veggies, and the light background heat of  the chili oil.  This is a really great dish.  The photo of it in Modernist Cuisine showed they added what looks like yellow and red peppers to theirs as well, although peppers aren’t listed in the recipe.  I suppose it just shows you can modify as you wish, and it gives me a convenient excuse for changing up the recipe myself. Maybe it should be called Broccoli Many, Many Ways.