Here is a dish I had been thinking about for the last few days.  I wanted to make an interesting "broccoli  and cheese" dish but obviously didn't just want to melt some cheese over the broccoli and call it a day.  To be honest with you broccoli is not one of my favorite vegetables.  I just don't feel like flavor wise, it has a lot to offer.  It is always a challenge as a chef to work with ingredients that are not your favorite and make them stand out.  I really wanted to embrace the broccoli in this dish and make it the star.  I also had some local romanesco broccoli that I used for a little different texture and flavor.  For the broccoli I simply fried in a light tempura batter and for the cheese I made a bechamel and then foamed it. I added just a little beef chorizo to the dish to round out the flavors and accented it all with a lemon gel.  It might sound a little complicated but the dish was definitely a keeper and one that I thought turned out great considering my lack of love for broccoli.  JP thought it was awesome so it is always good when your boss is happy.  Here is the recipe.

1 head of broccoli trimmed with stems attached

1 small head of romanesco cut into tiny individual heads

Tempura batter

1 cup of rice flour

1 cup of corn starch

1 3/4 cup of carbonated water

Oil for frying

Lemon Gel

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of lemon juice

1 tbsp of lemon zest

2 1/2 tsp of agar

Cheese foam

2 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of flour

4 cup of milk

2 oz of parmesan cheese grated

4 oz Agour ( Pyreneese Ossau )

4 oz Fontina (Val d'aosta)

salt to taste

2 isi charges

6 oz of ground beef chorizo cooked and drained

broccoli sprouts to garnish

For the broccoli

Take the broccoli head and trim just the bottom 1/4th of the stalk.  Then following the natural lines of the broccoli heads, cut manageable portions keeping a long stem on each of the individual broccoli heads.  Work your way around the stalk to keep most of the portions the same size.  You want  a decent head and stalk on each one.  Set aside until ready to fry.

For the romanesco, simply use your fingers or a paring knife and follow the natural design of the romanesco and cut tiny individual heads.  Then take a pot of boiling salted water and blanch for 30 seconds. Strain out and let it cool to room temperature on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper  ( you can also use an ice bath ).  Set aside until ready to use.

For the bechamel foam

Melt butter in a medium sauce pot on medium heat. Once melted add the flour and make a roux.  Cook for a minute and then add the milk stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 5 minutes and then stir in cheese a little at a time until completely melted.  Season with salt and strain into isi foamer ( The sauce should be thick, not too thick, but still pourable).  Charge with 2 cartridges shaking well with each one and then set aside and keep warm.

For the tempura batter

Place both flours into a bowl, whisk in carbonated water and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.  The batter should be fairly thin.  I like it just barely thick enough to coat the broccoli.  

Heat frying oil to 350

For the lemon gel

In a small pot add water, sugar, and zest.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 7 minutes, then add the juice and the agar stirring constantly.  Simmer for 5 minutes once it comes back to a boil again.  Then pour on to a sheet pan and cool completely.  Then place the gel into a blender and blend until smooth.  Place in a squirt bottle and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To finish

Dip 3 pieces of broccoli into the tempura batter and place in the fryer.  While the broccoli is frying take the foamer with the cheese bechamel and foam in the center of the plate.  Then place a spoonful of chorizo in the middle of the foam.  Take a small pot with butter and heat up the romanesco broccoli, season with salt, once warmed drain of any excess butter.  Then place the romanesco around the place with the ends touching the cheese foam, leaving space for the lemon gel.  Then take the lemon gel and squirt drops in between each romanesco.  Then take your broccoli out of the fryer and drain on paper towels.  Season with salt right away. Take the broccoli and stand them up with the stalks sticking up.  Garnish with broccoli sprouts and flowers.  Serve and enjoy!

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