We have had two bitter cold Winter’s in a row. While we in Northern Lower Michigan haven’t had the snow this year as we did last, it’s been a hard one nonetheless. To say we look forward to Spring is rather an understatement. The days are longer and the quality of the light at mid day are fine indicators that the time for warmer weather and fresh Spring produce is on the way. One thing I am looking forward to is Asparagus season.
Spargelfest begins in April in Germany. The star of the season is the precious white asparagus that is revered in Germany and parts of France & Belgium. It is largely, almost purposefully, ignored here in the States. I have found a few bunches in the grocery store. They are small shipments and do not last very long. I did find a very good price on them a couple of weeks ago, 2.00 a pound!
A few things you should know about this scrumptious treat before you begin to prepare it for eating. First, it can be very bitter and tough so you absolutely have to peel the stalks. Second, they will absorb all of the flavors that you pair with it. So chose wisely! But the most important thing about white asparagus is that it needs better than blanching with garlic butter.
Green asparagus has all the flavor of the minerals and photosynthesis it undergoes so it wants very little attention to get a flavorful pop in your mouth. White asparagus has been deprived of sunlight therefore does not have the active chlorophyll ingredient. Roasted, grilled or sauced with intense flavors is one of the best treatments for it as a side dish. The French will use it in a creamy soup but I think it gets lost in a cream base. And I think that it needs more colors. I like a bright plate.
Here you can see fine diced Peruvian Cherry peppers, chives, parsley, a bit of a fine shallot in a butter sauce. The flavors you can not see, lemon juice from half a lemon, chicken stock, fresh mashed garlic and salt and WHITE pepper.
Prepare asparagus in your preferred method. I boiled mine in a mixture of half water half chicken broth with the garlic until the spears were just fork tender. Removing the spears from the pan, I sauteed the veggies very lightly, added butter and removed it from heat, allowing the butter to melt without browning. Squeeze the lemon juice over plated spears then pour butter and veggie sauce over your spears, salt and pepper it.
A sprinkle of fresh grated hard cheese would not be inappropriate.