Sunday, December 12, 2010
Often people are excited by vegetables that they have never seen before, or don't see very often. In my line of work this translates into value on the plate for a customer. If I can cook a protein perfectly, and a starch, and give someone a vegetable or three that they have never had, and cook it well, there is value in that. At the restaurant we spend a lot of time tracking things like this down, especially this time of year when I have to look outside of the local arena for most of my vegetables.I like broccolini as it isn't what I would call mainstream, and it looks great on a plate. Broccolini is often wrongly assumed to be a hybrid of an asparagus plant, but is really a hybrid of Chinese kale, and broccoli. It was developed in China by a certain company in the late 90's, that in turn patented the product for there usage only. Now we are seeing it more and more and even my local grocery store has it in stock most of the time. It cooks similar to asparagus, and the stock tastes very closely to that. The entire stalk and flowers are edible, even the yellow flowers you see on them sometimes, I usually trim the bottom inch or so off the stalk, just to them closer to the same size. It grills pretty well, but is great blanched and sauteed. It is worth saying that nothing bothers me more than overcooked green vegetables. I eat and cook vegetables as "al dente" as I can, as I think they are best that way. Overcooked green (brown) vegetables lose all of their flavor, and more importantly most of the vitamins and minerals we are looking for in them. Look for quick cooking methods, for a la minute serving. If you are really stressed about feeding a large group, or will need them quickly later just blanch them in boiling water for about 30-45 seconds, then ice them. When needed toss them into a hot pan and crank the heat until they are warmed through. Finish them with some salt and butter and maybe a squeeze of lemon.