Crack Broccoli

Picture a lemon wedge off to the side. Right?
Only my friend Maddie could make a vegetable that would get nicknamed “Crack Broccoli”—and that would be the first thing to disappear at a party where it was placed among such delights as chips and dip, oozing triple-cream cheese, and ginger-prosecco cocktails. Children literally shoved aside bowls of candy to grab at the vanishing broccoli, and you know I don’t use the word “literally” figuratively. So I asked for the recipe.
And I am sharing it here, now, because I am not a juice-fast-January kind of person. But I am a vegetable-January kind of person. In the past two weeks, I have eaten chocolate-caramel walnuts, gravlax, and cider-glazed ham. I have eaten pickled shrimp, pork meatballs, and all the Good-and-Plenty roof tiles from my children’s gingerbread houses. And I am full in a bad way. I feel like the “before” photo for a spa or the "after" photo for some kind of human inflating device: creased and puffy and so tired that all I can say is, “I’m so tired.” And now I’m sitting here, with my tired pink face squashed into my hand, trying to think of something funny to add. I’m so tired?
I'm tired too! Probably I should just eat the whole head of broccoli raw. But that’s not really my style. This, however, is exactly my style: broccoli perfectly tender, perfectly browned, a little bit sweet and just this side of too salty, and utterly addictive. It’s the first recipe that has allowed me to make roasted broccoli that was neither burnt nor underdone nor simultaneously burnt and underdone. We’re going to eat it at room temperature with fresh whole-grain bread and a nice big piece of cheddar cheese, and we’re going to call it dinner.
Oven-Roasted BroccoliServes 4Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 20 minutes
Maddie, who is very “Pish-posh, a baby could make it,” when you ask her for any of her recipes, directed me to America’s Test Kitchen for this, and sure enough I googled and found it. And I wouldn’t let a baby make it, but it is definitely easy. And there won’t be any left. As requested, here are links for all the kitchenware shown here. This incredibly awesome knife, this awesome rimmed baking sheet, and this love-of-my-life prep bowl.
1 large head broccoli3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)1/2 teaspoon sugarLemon wedges, for serving (I keep forgetting this, but I’m sure it would be good)
Peel the broccoli with a sharp paring knife as best as you’re able. The thick peel will keep the broccoli from going fully tender, so you really do want to remove it.
Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Cut the stem off of the broccoli, and cut it into long, ½-inch thick pieces. Cut the rest of the broccoli into long, fairly narrow florets, then put it in a bowl, drizzle it with the oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with the salt and sugar, and toss to combine. (The sugar helps it brown, so please don’t omit it.)
Working quickly, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the broccoli to the baking sheet and spread it in an even layer, placing it flat sides down wherever possible.
Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the stalks are well browned and tender and the florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges (if you remember).
This was very wilty-seeming broccoli. Which I actually prefer to that dry, yellow broccoli--the kind where you put the parings in the compost bucket and then all day everybody wonders aloud who farted. Peeled, trimmed, and floretted.We're not talking about a lot of ingredients here.Did I mention that you really have to use your hands to coat it with the oil, salt, and sugar? You really do. You even have to kind of massage it a little so that it all looks oily.The top side looks fine. But when you start looking underneath, you'll really understand how gorgeous it has become.