Broad beans (fava beans) are strange looking fellows. And there's a secret to cooking them - they have two shells! If you've ever had fava beans and thought, ick, these are super bitter, then you were probably eating them with their inner shell (or skin) still intact. Or worse - they were overcooked.
As big as they are, fava beans only take about 3 minutes of cooking time. It's the prep that takes time. First you shell them, then you parboil them, then you shell them again, then a quick flash of heat, and they're done!
I like to break off one end and pull the strings down the sides to help it open. You can also use a knife along one of these seams.
Next, boil or steam for approximately two minutes.
While you are doing this, prepare an ice bath.
After two minutes, drain the beans and dump into the ice bath.
Now it should be much easier to pop them out of their inner skins! Break off the side with little extra growth on it, and pop them out into another bowl.
It's time to taste your beans. They should be slightly under cooked. This will tell you how long the naked beans now need to be cooked. I often overdo this stage and end up only needing to sear the peeled beans for about a minute.
It's really up to you what you want to do with your beans at this point. I've added them to stews, curries, and pasta dishes, and let them almost melt into the dish by cooking them longer than needed.
If you're going to eat them on their own, heat up a little butter, add some garlic or shallot and saute for a minute. Once that looks good, toss your beans in for another minute or two. Add salt to taste and you're done!