Broccoli with Cheetos

Cover recipe-  Saveur, Broccoli with CheetosJan/Feb 2011

This issue of Saveur magazine is noted as Saveur 100- Chef’s Edition, a grab bag of chef-recommended tools, tricks of the trade, must-visit restaurants, beloved books, amazing drinks, guilty pleasure foods, and much more.  There are 37 recipes from the World’s Greatest Chefs included in this list of 100 things.

I knew the moment that I browsed this cover that I’d be making the recipe I spotted 2nd row from the bottom on the far right:  Broccoli with Cheetos.  When I was pregnant with my son years ago, I had cravings for Cheetos like you could never imagine, and I ate more Cheetos during those nine months than anyone should eat in a lifetime.

#19 on the Saveur Chefs Edition 100 is CHEETOS.  Here’s what Chef Craig Koketsu from Park Avenue Winter in NYC says about his guilty pleasure:  “I like the fact that your fingers get all orange when you eat these, and when you lick your fingers, they taste like Cheetos, too.  It’s hard to get more intense cheesiness out of anything else.  I use them at the restaurant in a broccoli side dish with a homemade cheese sauce; I crush the Cheetos and sprinkle them on top.  The flavor, texture, and look of the dish all come together by adding that one component.”

Read on to find out my take on Chef Koketsu’s Broccoli with Cheetos recipe…

Print Recipe

Broccoli with Cheetos

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 25 min + chill time

Cook Time: 25 min

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
6 black peppercorns
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-inch slices
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 cups original Cheetos, crushed by hand

Directions:

1.  Make the cheese sauce:  Heat cream, 2 Tbsp. garlic, shallots, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a 2 quart 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.
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 a bowl of ice water, and let chill.  Drain and transfer to paper towels to dry; set aside.  Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add remaining garlic and chile flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.  Add broccoli and cook, stirring often, until just subtly browned, about 6 minutes.
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.

Tips:

*The cheese sauce was simple to make.  I'd recommend picking up a very good Parmesan and a very good, flavorful Gouda.  Be sure to use kosher salt for maximum flavor, too.  My cheese sauce was pretty runny at first, but upon sitting for a little while it thickened up to be just right.
*Don't soak the broccoli in ice water.  Plunge it in there to stop the cooking process and remove it to paper towels and let it dry.
*There's a lot of garlic flavor in this recipe.  I'd say it's ok to cut a bit of it out if you're not a fan.

Source:  Saveur Jan/Feb 2011

The results:

My husband and I both tasted the dish.  My husband’s reaction:  he felt like the dish seemed as if some college kids threw it together and thought that Cheetos would be cool to throw on top.  He wasn’t a big fan of the dish.  I ate several more bites than he did, and I have to say that the more bites I took… the more the dish grew on me.  I thought it was fun and interesting and tasted pretty okay.  After all, I’m a big fan of Cheetos. I’m sure that this recipe sounds entirely strange to anyone and everyone out there.  If you’re a fan of Cheetos, you might just like this one.  Kids might think it’s cool and you’ll get them to eat their vegetables, too.  There aren’t a whole lot of Cheetos in the dish so no need to worry about turning a vegetable dish into junk food.  I give the Chef big Kudos for putting something out-of-the-ordinary like this on his menu.  I’d love to know how people react to it in his restaurant!

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Absolutely- not because it was the best of the best, but really because it was an unusual choice to include as a chef’s favorite.  It created some buzz on the internet and I’m quite sure it has been the topic of conversation in many a household too.  That’s what you want in a cover recipe!