Broccoli Pasticcio

Filling:
2-3 cups broccoli florets
4 tbsp butter
4 eggs
salt (to taste)
½ cup grated reggiano parmesan (more or less; according to taste)
diced red bell pepper (optional; for color & sweetness)

Variations: green beans & sweet onion; oysters & spinach; asparagus & red bell pepper; mix and match your favorite flavors.

Crust:
¼ cup bread crumbs (homemade with good bread = better crust)
6-8in. springform (or soufflé) pan

Preheat oven to 375°. Sauté broccoli (and other veggies, if using) in 3 tbsp. butter over medium high heat & season with salt to taste. The idea here is to lightly pre-cook (soften); don’t overcook. Set aside to cool.

Lightly beat eggs in large mixing bowl, then fold in parmesan. Smear remaining butter in springform pan and coat with bread crumbs. Tap out excess crumbs.

Prepare béchamel sauce. Add broccoli to eggs and fold together. Add ½ cup béchamel and fold in, then add remaining béchamel, fold well and pour into springform pan. (If you add all of the sauce at once, the heat will curdle the eggs.) Sprinkle extra parmesan on top.

Bake for 45 minutes until golden on top. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Béchamel Sauce:
1½ cups milk
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
salt (to taste)
white (or black) pepper (to taste)
nutmeg (grated to taste; a little goes a long way)

Making a roux:
Heat milk over low heat in small pot; don’t let it burn. Melt butter over low to medium low heat in separate pot, add flour when butter begins to bubble, stirring briskly with a whisk. Cook 4-5 minutes. Do not let flour brown.

Add hot milk to roux in small amounts, about half a cup at a time, stirring (whisking) briskly until all milk has been incorporated. Place over medium low to medium heat, add salt and cook while stirring until sauce is as dense as thick cream. If it seems too thick, add a little more hot milk (or water) at a time; stirring until it has the right consistency. It should smoothly coat a wooden spoon; not completely running off, nor sticking.

Some thoughts about rouxs (for the novice cook):
Mastering how to make a roux is a wonderfully versatile technique for making many kinds of sauces (or gravies)…from this white, creamy béchamel sauce to the other spectrum…a deep brown and nutty tasting Cajun roux.

Whether it’s a white sauce or a brown sauce, the key is not to burn the flour. For white sauces, you only want to cook the roux enough so that the sauce doesn’t taste like flour. For brown sauces, you want to brown, not burn the flour, to get the color and that nutty flavor. The best technique for controlling heat is simply to lift the pot or pan off and continue whisking until the bubbling subsides somewhat and then replace over heat.

This recipe may feel a little challenging the first time around, but it’s actually pretty easy once you are comfortable making the roux.

Cook with love! Eat with family & friends! Hope you enjoy!

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