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Broccoli with a Crunchy Crumb Topping

Broccoli with a Crunchy Crumb Topping
This recipe calls for orange zest. If possible, choose organic fruit for zesting, and be sure to scrub the fruit well to remove any residue or wax. Cut off only the thin, colored part of the rind, taking care not to include the bitter white pith. You can use a zester, a tool designed to remove the zest in long, narrow strips, which can then be left whole or chopped. A paring knife or vegetable peeler can also be used, but both often produce short, wide pieces that need further slicing. Zest can be removed with the fine rasps of a handheld grater as well.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large bunches broccoli (about 10 stalks)
  • Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
  • 14 Tbs. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped orange zest
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cut off the broccoli stems and reserve for another use. Separate the heads into florets. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water and add the broccoli. Cook, stirring once or twice, until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli and transfer to a bowl of ice water. When cool, drain again and pat dry.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter. Add the orange zest and garlic and cook, stirring once or twice, until the butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir to moisten. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the crumbs are crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 tsp. of the salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in another large fry pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 6 Tbs. butter. Add the broccoli, cover the pan and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally, until heated through and glazed with butter, about 5 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper and toss again.

Spoon the broccoli into a warmed wide serving bowl. Spoon the bread crumbs evenly over the broccoli and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Make-Ahead Tip: The broccoli can be prepared through the step of placing it in ice water up to 1 day ahead. Drain, pat dry, cover and refrigerate. Return the broccoli to room temperature before proceeding. The bread crumbs can be prepared several hours in advance and then reheated just before serving.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Thanksgiving, by Michael McLaughlin (Simon & Schuster, 2001).