Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Asparagus with Brown Butter

Local asparagus just appeared in the store last week. The appearance of local asparagus means the true start to Vermont spring, it means more choices for local food are coming, it also means we can begin eating it so often that we all become thoroughly sick of it. That way I won't start really hankering for it until January or February, at which point I am so close to the real thing I somehow convince myself to wait. Eating local asparagus is so different from the woody stalks shipped around the country that the wait is worth it.

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that my children love. That is, they love it if prepared exactly to their tastes. I do understand, some preparation methods can result in a stringy tough stalk. Neither one of them will touch boiled or even steamed asparagus.

They prefer the sugars in the asparagus to caramelize and even have some spots of brown. Until last year this meant roasting or grilling. However late in the season last year I was searching for a new way to make it and stumbled upon Jack Bishops "Pan Browned Asparagus with Brown Butter."

Like grilling and roasting this recipe caramelizes some of the sugars, resulting in a sweeter flavor. It also retains some of the crisp tender quality that my children require, or to be more precise is not stringy. In addition the brown butter melds with the asparagus and makes the flavor smoother, silkier and richer. When I make grilled and roasted asparagus Sebastian will not eat the tips and I get extra of my favorite part. With this recipe the sumptuous flavor is the most perfect in the tips and Sebastian eats the whole thing. I have noticed he even saves the tips for last.

Pan Browned Asparagus with Browned Butter
From Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds thin or medium asparagus, ends snapped off where they naturally break
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Place the asparagus in the skillet in a single layer (I don't always have the space for a single layer, if so shake the pan occasionally to rearrange the asparagus). Season with kosher salt to taste. Cover the pan and cook until crisp tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove the cover, raise the heat to medium high and cook, shaking the pan occasionally to turn them, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter with a slotted spoon or tongs. Season with pepper and serve immediately. (or, you can tell your family to wait while you just take 30 photos of the finished dish for your blog).

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