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Best Broccoli in America

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We know Houston has the best hamburger selection in the nation, and coming soon near you, the best real mojito north of Havana. A bigger surprise is that Houston has the best climate for growing rich and flavorful broccoli, and everyone I've served it to agrees that it's the best they've ever had.

Never mind we're home to our nation's premier broccoli hater. George H. W. Bush hated broccoli long before moving to Texas, and who could fault him? There's a hundred ways to make broccoli mushy, sickly yellow-green, stringy, chewy, smelly, or the color of a hobo's Army-surplus jacket.

There's only one way I know to flawlessly cook broccoli, which I call power-blanching:

  • Bring four inches of water to boil in a saucepan or pot, with a few teaspoons of salt, covered.
  • Cut broccoli florets off the stalks. If you like stalks, slice them thin.
  • When the water boils, lift cover, toss in broccoli, and clamp the lid down tight. When the water boils again, and steam comes out from the lid, cook the broccoli exactly two minutes.
  • Drain the broccoli, then butter it, salt it, pepper it, and cheese it. Cheddar is better, but don't get too Italian, despite the name--Parmesan is tolerable, but mozzarella is dreadful. If it isn't delicious, it's not you--it's the broccoli. Some warmed salsa con queso from a jar will save it.

Prime broccoli harvest is still going on, and you can find it in farmers' markets as well as the grocery store. Now is also the best time to buy the Green Goliath variety seeds (Southwest Fertilizer), as they are often sold out at planting time.

I follow a holiday schedule to grow superstar Houston broccoli. I plant seeds in the garden and containers after Halloween, a second crop on Veterans Day. The sprouts pop up in a week, and they don't need a lot of watering in the cool weather. I fertilize around Thanksgiving, New Year's, Super Bowl Sunday, and Valentine's, then before St. Pat's I start getting heads. These must be harvested immediately or they turn to yellow flowers. Each plant only produces one gorgeous head, but that makes the broccoli all the more precious.


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