How to Make Smoked and Grilled Broccoli with a Bacon Fat and Lemon Vinaigrette, Roasted Nuts and Grana Padano Cheese
The title of this post is a mouthful. But the mouthful will for sure be a good one! Today I am sharing a recipe of my own creation based on something I had at a restaurant. Close to me there is a smokehouse restaurant that offers the following item: Fire roasted broccoli with mustard cider vinaigrette, smoked Stanford cheese & macadamia nuts. The link will take you to the whole menu, but this dish was one of my favorites. And since I tasted it there, I have like with most recipes in my life, tweaked it slightly with the available ingredients I have.
In today's recipe write-up, I will show you how I make this very gourmet but awesome dish! I used some of my rendered bacon fat and beef short rib fat to make a vinaigrette, but also to roast the nuts. I lightly smoke the broccoli head (in a very untraditional method), grill it, and then top it with Grana Padano cheese. Please follow along with the images below to make this awesome take on a vegetable that few people eat.
For this dish you will need the following ingredients:
- Broccoli head,
- Lemon juice and lemon rind,
- Bacon fat,
- Grana Padano Cheese
- Salt and pepper, and
- Dijon-styled mustard.
This recipe's method is real simple: Make the vinaigrette and dress the broccoli head with it, roast or pan fry the nuts, and then grill and smoke it! Cover it with cheese and the roasted/fried nuts and dig in.
Step 1: Make the Vinaigrette
The vinaigrette is real simple: bacon fat and lemon juice, and for good measure, dijon-styled mustard. This will emulsify the vinaigrette, so I am not sure if it is still classified as a vinaigrette then anymore. But I love the taste of a dijon-styled mustard. It balances the richness of the bacon fat and helps elevate the lemon juice.
Bacon fat is solid at room temp. My bacon fat has some beef short rib fat in as well, so it is real solid at room temp. Melt the fat and add the lemon juice and rind, and the mustard. This will sit at room temp again, so baste the broccoli head quickly before the fat solidifies.
Step 2: Roast/Fry the Nuts
As I was short on time, I only managed to pan fry the nuts in some bacon fat. I think roasting them in the oven gives a better product, but this takes some extra time and I was not using the oven for anything else. I opted for only panfrying them.
I only had some almond nuts. They are raw and unsalted, so cooking them with some added salt and bacon fat makes them super delicious. They pare so well with the vinaigrette.
Step 3: Start the Fire
As with most South African food, start a wood fire! I love the smell and taste that a specific tree gives in South Africa. It is colloquially called "rooi krans" but it is the Acacia cyclops tree. It is an invasive species in South Africa, so there are no ethical worries about using this wood in my opinion!
Step 4: Smoke the Broccoli head
We South Africans rarely smoke our meat, so we do not have a fancy smoker or anything like that. But if you take out a piece of unburned wood that caught fire, it will smoke. I place such a piece of wood under the broccoli head on the top height setting of my cooker ("braai"). I can then smoke the broccoli head with minimal heat, waiting for the coals to form.
Here you can see how the smoke rises and in effect "smoke" the broccoli. Very untraditional!
Step 5: Cook the Broccoli
Things moved a bit fast, so I could not snap an image, but when the coals were ready, I cooked the broccoli head with the other food and it got all nice and crispy. If you have never had broccoli on the grill, you are in for a treat! This is how it looked after I cooked it over the wood coals.
Step 6: Finish with the Nuts and Cheese
The last step is simple: put the nuts and cheese over it, and cut it into smaller pieces.
We enjoyed this side dish with our regular braai-ed meat and boerewors. It is a real winner and it tasted so good. The acidity from the vinaigrette, the fat from the bacon and the nuts and cheese makes broccoli something you can enjoy! Vegetables are only boring and bland if you do not know how to cook them! I hope you try this recipe. If you do, please let me know in the comments how it turned out. Happy cooking! Enjoy every meal, make it special.