Asapargus served with, well, Asparagus
I have cooked asparagus only three times this year and each time I have used the same recipe. You can find it Michel Richard's book Happy in the Kitchen and I think it's called 'Asparagus on Asparagus'. It wouldn't be to difficult for me to fact check the name and make sure I was giving you the right information- all I'd need to do would be to walk across the kitchen and leaf through the book, but you'll have to forgive me, I just don't feel like doing that for you right now.
The truth is, when I made this dish for lunch earlier today, I didn't even refer to the recipe. I didn't need to. I'd already been inspired by it, taken from it what I needed to and then made it my own.
The basic premise is this:
-Take one bunch of fat asparagus and peel off the skins up to the tips. Discard skins.
-Trim off the cut ends, about an inch in length and reserve.
-Steam the asparagus spears for no longer than 5 minutes, until tender.
-Plunge asparagus immediately into an iced water bath.
-Meanwhile, put the reserved asparagus ends in a small pan.
-Add a glug of olive oil and a generous splash of water.
-Cook ends for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the water has evaporated and the tender are ends are glossy with oil.
-Leave ends to cool a little.
-Process the asparagus ends with salt, pepper, lemon juice and Dijon mustard to your taste, in a blender.
-Remove asparagus spears from the water bath and pat dry with a towel.
-Arrange spears on a plate.
-Serve the asparagus sauce alongside for dipping.
I make it all sound so easy, don't I? But rest assured it wasn't plain sailing getting to this point. The first time I was convinced that I should be thrifty and healthy and use the asparagus 'peelings' in the dipping sauce. Bad move. Not only were they woody and fibrous, they caused the sauce to be an awful sludgy green in appearance. Not peeling the asparagus may be healthier and less fussy, but it's the only way you are going to get that beautiful vibrant green colour on your plate and the tenderest of stems on your tongue. The next time I made the dish I had an audience to impress and I don't think I did such a great job. I avoided the excessive fiber on my second attempt, but even adding a couple of tips (as I did that time) to the dip deadens its hue. I'd also steamed the spears for at least 6 minutes. One minute too long in the sauna and these beauties become past tender to the point of flaccid and as any girl knows, that's not as much fun. Plus, I hate to say it, but the Grey Poupon which my friend had me use for Dijon on that occasion, didn't cut the mustard. Non-locavore as it is, the result of a Maille Dijon imported directly from France is more to my taste. It is spicier with less overpowering vinegar. (Yes, since you ask, it is different to the American version of Maille Dijon, which is slightly amusing to me since I just found out that all French mustards are made with American mustard seeds, anyway, I digress...)
So there you have it. Asparagus on Asparagus. Make sure you try it before the season is out...
Other Resources & Further Reading
More about Michel Richard's Happy in the Kitchen
© 2008 Sam Breach Asapargus served with, well, Asparagus