A few weeks ago, at the end of an evening of natural wine tasting I had attended, the group were presented with 3 or 4 large bowls of purple sprouting / tenderstem broccoli. Just broccoli. Not as a side dish, or as part of a buffet. Just broccoli to be eaten with our fingers. Like a canapé. There was something slightly Roman about picking these up and dropping them into our mouths whilst finishing off cloudy wines. I thought it was a great idea; particularly because the broccoli tasted fantastic.
Cooked beyond al dente to floppy, but not overdone, the stems were drenched in a flavoured butter. I recall there being a bit of garlic in there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been some salted anchovies too. But, mostly, I remember tarragon. And I’m now a total convert to mixing this herb in with that veg.
It was no surprise that I walked away from a wine tasting event held at 40 Maltby Street thinking about the food. I’ve been half a dozen or so times over the last 7 or 8 months and the items coming out of the kitchen have consistently been excellent. The seating’s better than when I reviewed the place too. It’s well worth a visit or a return.
Anyway, back to that broccoli / tarragon combo. I decided to do something similar the other day, but this time mixing in a bit of black pudding and just of touch of lemon. The black pudding added both a bit of salt and some sweetness. I cooked it hard and fast so there was a crust for texture too. The lemon cut through the broccoli, tarragon and black pudding, but it wasn’t dominating; that was the role of the tarragon.
It was genuinely delicious. I thoroughly recommend it, whether as Roman style finger food, or as a (warm or chilled) side dish in an Ottolenghi style buffet.
You could also have it as a weekend brunch dish: if you stick some on a plate next to a toasted slice of St John Bakery sourdough and a Burford Brown egg, make yourself a cup of Monmouth coffee, and then take a picture of it all … you’ll be as much of a London food cliché as me.
Purple sprouting broccoli with black pudding and tarragon butter
Serves 2 as part of brunch
- About 300g (a large handful) of purple sprouting broccoli. Tenderstem will do.
- 100g black pudding in one 2cm-ish thick round.
- 50g butter
- 5 stems of tarragon
- zest of half a lemon
- juice of ¼ lemon
- Sea salt and black pepper
Prepare the tarragon, stripping the leaves from the stems. Don’t use a knife as this bruises the herb (like basil). Prepare the purple sprouting by removing any woody bits and separating multiple stems, so they’re all about the same size.
Melt the butter in a small milk pan over a low heat. Make sure it’s melting not cooking – we don’t want the solids to start to split out, or for the butter to get so hot that it fries the tarragon when it is added (the next step). When it’s about ¾ melted, turn off the heat and let the residual heat finish it off. Add the tarragon, lemon zest and juice. Add salt if the butter was unsalted. But not too much as the black pudding is also salty.
Steam the broccoli for 4-5 minutes. You want floppy rather than al dente.
As the broccoli is cooking, heat a pan on a high flame and then fry the black pudding in a little butter. Hard and fast. We want it to have a crust, but for it to only be warm and moist in the middle. It should take 1-1½ minutes, turning just a couple of times. Take the pan off the heat. Mash the black pudding with a fork so it breaks into 1-2cm pieces. Add to the butter.
Remove the broccoli from the steamer, put into a serving or mixing bowl. Toss the veg so it’s all covered. Add plenty of black pepper and salt to taste.