I've spent half a century writing for radio and print (mostly print). I hope to still be tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
George H.W. Bush and Broccoli: A Story
U.S. President George H.W. Bush once told U.S. News and World Report,
I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!
He banned the vegetable from Air Force One. If only he had been fed this dish, the history of the world might have been different.
You know how this works. Recipes always lie about the time it takes to cook up something; dishes are forever “quick and easy.” This recipe takes as long as you like; it depends on how many people are in the kitchen, the quality of the conversation, and the amount of wine available. In a well-regulated kitchen, there should be plenty of each commodity. So, let’s say 90 minutes, including cooking time—give or take.
- 8 cups of chopped broccoli florets
- 6 tablespoons of butter (margarine if you have to)
- 6 tablespoons of diced Spanish or Vidalia onion
- 4 tablespoons of flour
- 2-1/2 cups of 1% milk
- 4 cups of grated Swiss or Gouda cheese (Mongolian yak cheese if that’s your preference, but I wouldn’t advise it)
- A smidgen of Parmesan (see below)
- 4 eggs, beaten (but gently, so it doesn’t hurt too much)
- Steam the broccoli. I like to bring the water to a boil and then switch off the juice. After a couple of minutes bathing in the scalding steam, put the beautifully bright green veg into a colander and set aside.
- Cook the onion until soft in the butter; add the flour and stir.
- Slowly add the milk and stir until the sauce thickens and remove from heat.
- (You could do a shortcut and use a can or two of condensed mushroom soup. But I don’t hold with that kind of thing. So there. Slow food, yea!)
- Stir in the broccoli, cheese, and eggs.
- I like to goose up the flavour with a smidgen of freshly grated parmesan. A smidgen is a carefully calibrated measure equivalent to about a handful, or, if you are Donald Trump, two heaping handfuls.
- Pour into a greased (that standard recipe instruction sounds horrible; it brings up images of Jiffy Lube) baking dish of generous proportions. I also like to sprinkle some extra cheese on top. Breadcrumbs, too, if you like.
- Bake uncovered at 375 F for about an hour.
This makes enough to last most of a week as a side dish. That’s if there are three of you in the house and one of them is George H.W. Bush. It’s also a great snack or lunch item.
- My wife and I have often said that if someone told us we could eat only one dish for the rest of our lives, this might be it. Although I think a good case could be made for Ruffles All-Dressed Potato Chips.
- According to the BBC program Quite Interesting, "Americans eat nine times more broccoli than they did in 1970."
© 2017 Rupert Taylor