Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Bennigan’s Broccoli Bites. Printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this post. The original recipe can be found over at cdkitchen.
This week’s recipe was submitted by reader Sherry B. Coincidentally, another reader (Kristen) submitted a very similar recipe that was baked rather than deep-fried. We opted to do the deep-fried version just because both of us had seen it (probably on Pinterest) and wanted to give it a try. We may give the baked version a try in the future, but it won’t be in the near future.
What we SHOULD have done was make both of them and decided which was best, now that I think about it. And yet, we did not. Maybe next time!
I’ll say, up front, that I’ve never had broccoli bites at Bennigan’s (I’ve never been to Bennigan’s, actually), so I can’t say whether they taste like the Bennigan’s version or not.
Eggs, chopped broccoli, bacon pieces, onion, flour, Italian bread crumbs.
First of all, may I say that it annoys the shit out of me that it’s so friggin’ hard to find 16 ounces of chopped broccoli at my local grocery store? I had to buy two 10-ounce boxes instead, and then use a little more than a box and a half for the recipe (I could have weighed the broccoli to get the correct amount, I SUPPOSE, but my kitchen scale is currently residing upstairs for kitten-weighing purposes, so I had to wing it). Also, I could find shredded Monterey Jack cheese, but shredded Colby is not a thing (at least at MY grocery store), so what I ended up doing was buying two bags of Colby and Monterey Jack combined, and figured it’d work out. (I’m sure Nance made poor Shirley shred the cheese when she made these, because she’s a cruel taskmaster.)
ALSO. The recipe calls for “2 1/2 ounces bacon pieces” which I am SURE was intended to convey that you’re supposed to use Bacon Bits, but when I mentioned the idea of Bacon Bits to Himself, I was told in no uncertain terms that I’d BETTER use real bacon because Bacon Bits are “gross.”
So I took the damn STORE-BOUGHT bacon out of the freezer, and I cooked up EIGHT slices of bacon. (I used store-bought bacon because we don’t cure our bacon, and I figure that any recipe that calls for bacon is counting on the idea that it’ll taste, you know, bacony. So I bought a pack of bacon at the store, wrapped each slice separately, and keep it in the freezer for the times when I need it.)
Eight slices of bacon – wouldn’t you guess that that would be more than enough to make 2 1/2 ounces of bacon pieces? Yeah, well, no. I ended up with less than 1 ounce. I made up the difference with a little more cheese than the recipe called for, and called it good enough. This recipe turned out to be a bit more complicated than I thought it was going to be, and I hadn’t even started MAKING it yet, I was just gathering ingredients.
Throw everything but the bread crumbs in a plastic container.
Begin to stir it up, realize that your plastic container isn’t big enough to combine everything properly, move it to a bigger plastic container, and finish combining.
Cover it up, and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour.
Then make your honey mustard dipping sauce. Ingredients:
Sour cream, mayo, Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice.
The recipe suggests that you combine the sour cream, mayo, and mustard with a whisk and then slowly drizzle in the honey and lemon juice and to this I say:
There’s a reason God created the mini food processor.
I threw everything in the mini food processor and then whirred it all together, getting a lovely, smooth honey mustard dressing.
Pretty, right? Then I put that in a plastic container in the fridge and wandered off to take a nap.
“You makin’ somethin’ with broccoli in it and you think you get naptime snuggles? Don’t THINK so.”
That’s Puff. He’s a sweet little character, with really soft, silky fur and a half-‘stache. Isn’t he pretty? Isn’t he awesome? Don’t you want him for your very own? TOO BAD. He went to a fabulous home on Saturday. YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE.
When I rolled my lazy butt off the couch after a wonderful nap, I was a little out of it, which is why I failed to take a picture of myself pouring 4 cups of vegetable oil into a pot, and putting it on the stove over medium-high heat. I would like to hope that you can imagine what that looked like, but with y’all (I say this with love), you just never know. Hopefully Nance got a picture of that particular step.
Put your Italian bread crumbs in a bowl.
Get out your broccoli mixture.
Yep. Looks pretty much like it did before it spent time in the fridge.
Scoop about a 1/2 ounce portion of the broccoli mixture into the bread crumbs. I used my handy 1-Tablespoon scoop (since 1 Tablespoon equals half an ounce, I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT, DID YOU?! I sure as shit didn’t; I had to look at my conversion chart, which hangs on the fridge.)
Roll your broccoli mixture into a ball, then coat each ball with bread crumbs.
At first I didn’t think I was going to be able to get this stuff to stick together (it really really didn’t want to), but I kept sprinkling bread crumbs over the mixture and squeezing it into a ball, and eventually it stuck. Then I rolled it in the bread crumbs, as directed.
My oil heated up pretty quickly (you’re aiming for 350ºF; it helps to use a candy thermometer to keep an eye on the temp), and by the time I had several broccoli balls rolled up and ready to go, the oil was ready to go, too. I think I cooked 8 bites at a time, so I wouldn’t crowd the pot. I didn’t want my balls to stick together. (I was NOT snickering like a 10 year old boy as I typed that at ALL.)
Look. You’re supposed to cook these things for 1 minute, then remove them to a plate lined with paper towels. I am so flighty and ditzy that I got side-tracked EVERY time, and I don’t think any of these broccoli bites cooked for less than two minutes despite my determination to pay attention THIS time. They were probably a bit overcooked, but I do have to say that they didn’t taste dry or overcooked to me, so I’m not sure that I’d be too freaked out if you end up cooking them for longer than a minute.
Serve your broccoli bites, warm, with a side of honey-mustard dipping sauce.
The verdict? I thought they were pretty good. If I had it to do over again, I think I might have used plain Panko bread crumbs instead of the Italian bread crumbs. Like I said, I’ve never had them at Bennigan’s, so I don’t know how they compare. Fred said he’d never have guessed that they have broccoli in them if I hadn’t told him.
I only ate them once, because I suspect they’d be kind of rubbery if you reheat them. Fred developed a terrible stomach ache a couple of hours after dinner, but I have no idea if it was the broccoli bites or something else we had at dinner. (The chickens got the leftovers, and they thought they were AWESOME. Chickens think most things are AWESOME.)
I won’t go out of my way to make them again, mostly because deep-frying stuff is a huge pain in the ass and makes the house smell like oil for days. Fred said they were okay, but he doesn’t want them again (he blames them for the stomach ache) and if we were to end up at Bennigan’s (I don’t know how that would happen; the closest location is 230 miles away, in Arkansas), he wouldn’t order them. I probably would, though.
So what I’m saying is that they’re not really worth the effort of making them yourself if you’re not someone who has a Fry Daddy sitting around, but if someone will make them FOR you, then dive right in!
By the way, regarding the honey mustard dipping sauce – I think that the Spicy Honey Mustard dipping sauce that I make to go with my chicken fingers is way better and I’d recommend using that instead.
Have a recipe you want us to make? Check out this page (there’s also a link to that page up there under the banner) and follow the instructions to submit a recipe!
“Look motherfucker, I said ‘NO PICTURES’!”
This is what I was doing instead of making the latest DCEP recipe. I blame Rick (of course) because we had just been discussing the fact that I never want to go anywhere. I spent Saturday at the County Farm Show, aka: Nance’s youth. And my opinion did not change…I will never be a country girl. Ever.
Truth Game: I have never heard of Bennigan’s Restaurant. Rick has and he told me something about a sandwich with lunch meat and cheese that’s battered and deep fried. Um, gross. I googled a bit and found a picture of the Bennigan’s broccoli bites so I had an idea of what I was aiming for. I’m just gonna go ahead and start calling myself a visual artist instead of a simpleton, okay?
I put Shirley (aka: my mom) to work chopping the broccoli. Sing it with me! God, I’m getting old. Anyway, there was much discussion in this house as to the appropriate size of the broccoli. That’s how it works around here. Always a discussion amongst everyone with opinions (Good Christ) until I finally lose my shit and make the call in order to shut everyone the hell up. There’s a reason it’s called Dysfunction Junction.
Shirley’s chopping it smaller. God forbid we eat something that might taste a little like broccoli. I’ll eat most vegetables, but I don’t want to taste them. Blech.
This entire recipe was measured in ounces. Some people say that’s the proper way to do it. And some people say it’s pretentious bullshit and really not that important at all (because they cannot be bothered with extra shit to do). I’ll let you decide which group I am in. Note: Shirley chopped the shit outta that broccoli.
Since I know Robyn already walked you thru this recipe with her pictures I’ll just show you what mine looked like and move along. This is when the discussion of bacon came up. I could not be arsed to fry up bacon so I broke out Rick’s favorite thing in the world (next to real bacon)…
The recipe called for 2 ounces which would have meant half of this jar. Nope. I let Rick convince me to buy this by showing me the label that mentions that it doesn’t have saturated fats or cholesterol. He’s obviously high if he thinks that I’m going to believe there is anything healthy about what appears to be a major source of cancer (CYA: allegedly). Bye, bye Betty Crocker Sponsorship!
This is what it looked like when I pulled it out of the refrigerator. Since cheese comes in 8 ounce blocks we just went ahead and added the entire thing. In order to make sure it all came together I added an extra egg. I’m glad I added the extra egg because Rick and I were busy doing something (no, not that) and I forgot all about it.
This little baby will be driving to Pittsburgh every day (this pic was when we just started mocking it up). Hopefully, people will want to find out more about DCEP and we can create a huge cluster-fuck of normal people who are all about food and who are not pretentious sluts who should eat a bag of dicks (hello, Amanda). I know that our gang will handle any and all Amanda-type bullshit and hopefully this will be fun with the exchange of great ideas, etc. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of when we removed that white backing and it left only the letters (silver) because the car is in the ‘Burgh as I type this. Hmm…I’m seriously considering posting Rick’s email address here so you can all write and tell him to WASH HIS FUCKING CAR ALREADY!
I have never done any type of breading this way and I was sure it was going to be a disaster.
I rolled a few up first and put them in the oil one after the other. By the time I got the last one in the first one was finished.
A pretty little ball of fat, mixed with fat, fried in fat, with a little touch of broccoli.
Of course everyone in this house loved them. Although Shirley informed me that she had a small stomach disruption from them, but she also admits to eating way too many of them. I’m pretty sure that lactose + grease = ass explosion. Proceed with caution.
I made the stupid sauce recipe that came with it and I suggest that you don’t even bother. It makes a shit-ton of sauce and it’s not that great. If you do try it, go easy on the honey and taste it as you go.
The broccoli bites are good. I have no idea how they compare with Bennegin’s though. I will definitely put them in my recipe binder, but I can’t imagine when I would make them. I’m a firm believer that the best deep fried foods are eaten in a restaurant where you get the entire experience without the mess in your own kitchen.
Update on Peace, the stray deaf and half-blind beagle that Trey found on the bridge…
As you can see, the starving dog is no longer starving. Three weeks of power gaining and now she’s on regular maintenance like the other dogs. She had a bad weekend with her ear and half of her belly raw and bleeding down to her tail. After her bath (medicated) she crawled right into Trey’s lap for some much-needed comfort.
Last night she let Rick hold her like this while I applied antibiotic ointment all over her (note: I cropped out what no one should ever have to see). She laid there comfortably until Rick had to move because he couldn’t feel his legs (hee). As Rick said, “This dog is learning how to lap.” Indeed she is.
- 3 eggs, beat until well blended
- 6 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 6 oz shredded Colby cheese
- 16 oz frozen chopped broccoli - thawed, drained, and dried
- 2½ oz bacon pieces
- ½ oz diced yellow onion
- 1 oz all-purpose flour
- Italian bread crumbs as needed
- **Honey Mustard dressing**
- ¾ c. sour cream
- ⅓ c. mayonnaise
- ⅓ c. Dijon mustard
- ⅓ c. honey
- 1 T lemon juice, PLUS
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Drain broccoli thoroughly (press through a strainer, or press between two layers of paper towel).
- Place all the ingredients except the bread crumbs in a plastic container. Stir together until well combined. Refrigerate mixture for at least 1 hour.
- Heat 4 cups of oil in a fryer or deep pan until oil is 350ºF. Set up a shallow pan or bowl with bread crumbs. Scoop ½ ounce (1 Tablespoon) of the broccoli mixture into the bread crumbs. Form each portion into a ball (it helps to sprinkle bread crumbs over the portion and squeeze firmly together) and then coat well with bread crumbs.
- Place broccoli bites into the fry basket or frying pan, taking care not to put them too close together so that they don't stick. Fry for one minute, then remove and place onto a plate lined with paper towels.
- Serve warm with Honey Mustard Dressing.
- ****Honey Mustard Dressing****
- In a mixing bowl, combine sour cream, mayo, and mustard. Blend thoroughly using a whisk. Slowly pour in the honey and lemon juice, continue mixing until smooth and well combined.
- Throw all ingredients into a mini food processor and blend until combined.