From America's Test Kitchen Season 7: Chicken Kiev
Although pan roasting is a quick, easy method for cooking vegetables, broccoli’s delicate florets and thick stalks pose unique challenges. We wanted pan-roasted broccoli that was tender—not dry—with bright green stalks and a toasted, slightly sweet flavor.
The first step was to transform a head of broccoli into pieces that would cook evenly. To do this, we trimmed the florets into small pieces and sliced the stalks into oblong coins. We tried adding the broccoli to a hot, lightly oiled skillet, but everything became shriveled and dried out before it could caramelize. It was clear that we needed moist heat (in other words, steam) to cook the broccoli through without burning it. Once the pieces began to brown, we added water (seasoned with salt and pepper), covered the skillet, and let the pieces cook. When the broccoli turned bright green, we removed the lid and let the excess steam evaporate. To ensure that the florets didn’t become limp while the hardier stalks cooked, we used a two-step process: browning the stalks and then tossing in the florets. The vibrant green florets and toasty-brown stalks are tasty enough to be eaten as is, but are hearty enough to stand up to the assertive flavorings of a browned butter or cheese sauce.
Avoid buying broccoli with stalks that have dry cracks or that bend easily or with florets that are yellow or brown. If your broccoli stalks are especially thick, split them in half lengthwise before slicing.