STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH BUTTER (for four)
1 pound broccoli (2 medium heads)
a large kettle of lightly salted, rapidly boiling water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Cut the broccoli florets from the central stalk, leaving the stem 2 inches long. Starting at the butt end of each, rapidly lift off with a small sharp knife, going almost all the way up to the flower buds all around. Cut off the tough butt ends of the central stalks, peel the stalks down to the tender pale inside flesh; cut the stalks in half lengthwise, then into diagonal pieces.
- Wash the peeled broccoli rapidly under cold water, drain, and place it in the steamer insert of a covered saucepan. Place about 2 inches of water in the bottom of the saucepan, cover it, and bring the water to a rapid boil. Place the steamer insert containing the broccoli into the saucepan and cover. Steam for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the broccoli is crisp-tender and still a vivid green color. Immediately remove insert from saucepan and place it under cold running water for several minutes to stop the cooking and retain the bright green color.
- If you are not serving at once, chill the broccoli in an ice bath or under cold running tap water. As soon as they are chilled, drain again and pat dry with paper towels. If you are not going to serve for several hours, wrap them in a clean dry towel and refrigerate in a plastic bag. Return to room temperature and rewarm by sauteing briefly with melted butter just before serving. Season warm broccoli lightly with salt and pepper.