Broccoli with Pecan Pancetta Topping

This is such a simple combination of flavors. The broccoli is almost sweet against the saltiness of the pancetta and the rich, nutty flavor[ and texture of the pecans. I love to layer the nuts all throughout the dish to bring that welcome nutty crunch. It's the biggest textural contrast in the dish. This is a great side dish for any fish or meat or can also just stand-alone. If you want to make it vegetarian, simply omit the pancetta; the pecans will provide enough protein on their own!]

Total Time:
55 min
20 min
35 min

6-8 servings

  • 3 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 8 cups broccoli florets (about 1 1/2 lbs.) or 2 lbs. broccoli crowns cut into florets
  • 3 oz. (about 6-7 thin slices) of Pancetta
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. Tabasco
  • 1 1/4 cups Fisher® Pecan Halves
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 1 small bunch chives, minced
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  • Cook the broccoli: Bring 6 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add the salt and bring the water back to a boil. Taste the water; it should taste like seawater. Add the broccoli and stir, with a wooden spoon or large slotted spoon. Cook until the broccoli is tender but still hold its shape, 5 minutes. Pour the broccoli and water into a colander placed over the sink. Arrange the broccoli on a baking sheet and refrigerate.

  • Cook the pancetta: Cook the pancetta slices over medium to low heat in a large skillet until they become crispy, 8-10 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan, leaving any cooking grease. Allow the pancetta to cool (and fully crisp). When cooled, crumble the pancetta slices.

  • Make the sauce: Add the butter and garlic to the skillet where the pancetta cooked and simmer gently over low heat until the garlic is translucent, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Stir in the Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 cups of the Gruyere and all of the cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the cheese melts and integrates with the cream. Add the Parmesan, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Stir and simmer again until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

  • Assemble and bake the broccoli: Add the broccoli to the cream in the sauté pan, stir to blend and let it "rest" on the stove, 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle a layer a little less than half of the pecans in the bottom of 13 x 9-inch pan or a gratin dish. Spoon the broccoli and cream over the nuts, sprinkling a few pecans as you build the gratin. Combine the remaining pecans with the breadcrumbs, the cooked pancetta, remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and the chives. Top with the pecan "breadcrumbs". Bake in the oven until piping hot and the nuts on top are browned, 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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