Broccoli Soffriti (Braised Broccoli)

This dish is to Christmas Eve dinner in Amalfi what apple pie is to July Fourth in middle America: an absolute necessity. The Amalfitani[ choose a leafy, lighter colored broccoli from Campania for this dish; the closest substitute in this country is broccoli rabe. Choose a bunch with as many leaves as possible.]

Serves 8
  • 3 pounds fresh broccoli rabe, with leaves, if possible, or 3 pounds broccoli
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, halved
  • 10 marinated anchovy fillets, roughly chopped, or 5 salt-packed anchovies, soaked, rinsed and filleted
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs

Trim the broccoli rabe into long stalks, removing the bottom 2 inches and leaving the leaves attached. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place a 12- to 14-inch saute pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until just golden brown and very fragrant. While the garlic and anchovies cook, plunge the broccoli rabe into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain the broccoli rabe well and add it to the pan with the garlic and anchovies. Cook over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender but still holding its shape. Remove from heat and season aggressively with pepper and timidly with salt. Serve hot or at room temperature sprinkled with the bread crumbs.

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