This is the first in my "How-To" series. Once a week we will visit a new kitchen technique. I will try to keep the techniques seasonal. So to start us off we're going to learn how to blanch broccoli. In this particular post I'm talking about broccoli specifically, but this technique will work on most vegetables.
I favor a double handled pan for blanching vegetables. I usually use a 2 1/2" deep braise pan or my short soup pot. Any pot that you can boil a few inches of water in will do for this. I use the double handled pot because they are easier to move than their single handled counterpart.
As far as hardware goes the rest is very basic. You'll need a slotted spoon, chef's knife, cutting board and a strainer.
You will obviously need...drumroll please...yes! Broccoli! I buy mine, in season, at the farmer's market. The only other ingredient necessary for fantastic blanched broccoli is kosher salt! Broccoli has such a wonderful sweet, green flavor that it needs no butter, no olive oil, no nothing, to enhance its flavor.
Bring 2-3" of water to a boil on the stove top. While you're waiting on this address your broccoli. I remove all but approximately 1 1/2-2" of stem. Some people prefer to eat only the florets, leaving almost no stem. I find that the stem is very tastey though. Why waste perfectly good vegetation? Slice the broccoli into bite sized spears...no larger than 1/2" on top.
When the water comes to a boil salt the water. I use about two tbsp of kosher salt for four cups of broccoli. Add in your broccoli and stir. Drop the heat to medium high and allow the broccoli to cook for 5-8 minutes. You want the broccoli to retain its vibrant green color and be yielding to the touch without being mushy. Al dente is the best term to describe what you're looking for.
When your broccoli is done strain it and you're ready to enjoy!
Some people like to "shock" the broccoli by submerging it into an ice-bath, but I try to do this last minute so it's warm and ready to go.