Baby and I spent a wonderful New Year's weekend at a friend's beach house in Ocean City, on the Jersey Shore--without a whiff of that reality show darling Snuggie or whatever she's called. However, taking a cue from her spray tan, we did make a dish which featured the similarly preternaturally colored orange Cheetos. Mere coincidence?
Here's the situation, gentle readers: this is a dish that delighted all and unlike reality television actually had some substance to it. I like to take a cookbook or food-related magazine with me whenever I go to a friend's house for a holiday or simple overnight when we plan to cook. I then choose something to make and there we suddenly have a page or two of food-spattered memories. Here's what came up so far this year and on an even more personal note, I now want to put Cheetos on everything. My comments below in italics.
Broccoli with Cheetos
Adapted from Saveur, Number #135
"Chef Craig Koketsu of New York City's Park Avenue Winter, who is a big fan of Cheetos, uses the crunchy snack food as a garnish for broccoli served on a sauce made with Gouda and Parmesan cheeses."
2 cups heavy cream less is fine
3 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. minced shallots
6 black peppercorns I used more
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups grated aged Gouda
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt, to taste
1 1/4 lbs. (about 2 large heads) broccoli, cut into small florets, stems cut crosswise into 1/4" slices this chopping needn't be too overwrought
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 cups original Cheetos, crushed by hand not too finely crushed
I did step 2 first, see below!
1. Make the cheese sauce: Heat cream, 2 tbsp. garlic, shallots, peppercorns, and bay leaf in 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in cheeses until melted, and season with salt. Set a fine strainer over a small saucepan and strain sauce, discarding solids. Set aside and keep warm. We didn't have a fine strainer at the beach house so I just plucked out the bay leaf and it was fine. The peppercorns bend to the heat and didn't threaten to crack anyone's fillings.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add broccoli and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain broccoli, transfer to bowl of ice water, and let chill. Drain and transfer to paper towels to dry; set aside. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining garlic and chili flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add broccoli and cook, stirring often, until just subtly browned, about 6 minutes. I did this step first and instead of all the bother of the ice bath, I just rinsed the broccoli in cold water to retain the color and put it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator several hours before I needed it, so it would be ready and would save time in the eventual preparation.
3. To serve, spoon cheese sauce evenly among 6 warm serving bowls or small plates. Top sauce with broccoli and a generous sprinkling of Cheetos. Serve immediately.
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