Asparagus of Spring
The pandemic has stuck robbing me of a trip to Germany. I had so much looked forward to another trip where i could eat Spargel. Served seasonally in germany the white asparagus is a delicacy.
But since we are socially isolating and white asparagus is not really easy to find in Wisconsin (although not impossible) we settled for the green one.
Before trying the white asparagus in germany i used to think the tender thin spindly asparagus is bees knees. But it generally easily overcooks and if you char it leaves no asparagus behind. The thick asparagus when cooked properly can be tender and supremely juicy, oozing of asparagus flavors. We much prefer the thick asparagus in season now. The cooking is also a bit forgiving, but i dare say you should peer over the stove and just cook it always to the perfect doneness as if cooking a piece of expensive meat.
Start with vibrant and firm fresh Asparagus and you have already won. Meg scored some beautiful one at Willi Street Coop from a local farm. It is quick and simple to cook really. We like to peel of any tough shoots but hate peeling off too much. then break it using hands near the stalk and it breaks usually automatically at the right place where it transitions from tough to tender.
We like to do the cooking without any fat with some direct heat, some boiling and some steaming. We get a thin layer of water to boil in a pan with maybe two to three tablespoons of water. We add the asparagus stalks and cover. We cook this barely for two minutes and the asparagus goes vibrant green.
We season now with salt a bit and sprinkle some more water and then really watch the pan as asparagus cooks more with the water now coming to boil and steaming in the pan. We turn the Asparagus gently and lovingly with tongs and make sure none of them are getting over cooked or getting chars. (When grilling though chars can be flavorful but we had something else in mind today) And as soon as they are the brightest green and done we transfer to iced water bowl to stop the cooking.
Drain them then pat dry with kitchen cloth gently and they are ready to be seasoned.
Asparagus with Saffron Butter
Normally we will serve Asparagus seasoned with salt and olive oil or butter or sauce hollandaise.
We had made some Saffron Butter just a day earlier so this compound sweet smelling butter is what we went with. It adds a touch of luxury. So we spread some room temperature saffron butter on the plate and added the asparagus and smeared some on top and seasoned with sea salt.
It was luxurious dish but simple. The thick asparagus were juicy and subtly flavored with the butter to let it keep its Asparagus flavors. Delicious and ready in a heartbeat.