I was surprised that there is not a single tutorial on the internet for cutting broccoli into spears - you know, the long-stemmed, hearty lengths of broccoli you tend to get at a restaurant, rather than the slightly wasteful "florets." I had to figure it all out by my self! After our broccoli is done, I'll show you a quick pasta dish you can make with it...and tell you what NOT to do when managing several things on the stove at the same time.
So, chunking a head of broccoli into spears: it goes without saying that you want to start with a nice, long-stemmed head of broccoli.
Cut off the dried-up bit at the end, and then start slicing off the outer stems by following the line of the stem through where it connects to the base.
Trim any odd leaves off your stalk, and tidy up the base by cutting it into a "v" shape (this is strictly esthetic, but you can use the scraps in Swamp Monster Soup.)
Continue until you have reached the tight center of your head, and just cut that the long way into quarters - see? Simple.
We put about 1/2" of water into our dutch oven, and put in our steamer basket (any type of rack that is food-safe, fits in your pot, and keeps the food above the water line will do) We brought the water to a boil and carefully layered the broccoli over the top.
Sparky covered the pot tightly and we set the timer for 5 minutes.
When the timer rang, we checked to make sure our broccoli was tender but vibrant green, and we pulled it out of the steam and set it aside. You can stop and eat now, if you'd like.
The remainder of the recipe is quite simple:
Sparky cut two Italian-style sausages into rounds (this is easier if they're slightly frozen) and minced three garlic cloves.
The sausage was cooked in a cast-iron skillet coated with olive oil, and after it had colored nicely and cooked through, we added the garlic and more olive oil.
Learning from earlier mistakes (see below,) we turned off the heat, allowed everything to cool slightly, and then added a ladleful of pasta water to create a sauce. The pasta, broccoli, and garlic oil were tossed together and topped with red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!