Monday, April 25, 2011

Asparagus: check!

The rhythm of spring is, for me, measured by the gradual arrival of my old friends. First come the tulips and daffodils, then the ramps, and then the asparagus. Asparagus, in all its grassy glory, is the first substantive vegetable to make its appearance in the Northeast. The early harvest is typically the best - both boldly flavored and delicately textured.

I got my hands on my first pound of asparagus on Saturday morning and promptly returned home to make myself an asparagus-centric lunch to remember. Eggs and pork are classic partners for asparagus, and so I decided to saute my spears in bacon fat and top the lot with a fried egg. Chives are delightfully peppery and are simply everywhere right now, so I added a healthy handful of those for good measure. (I love pork and pepper - love!)

Now, if you're veggie, I'd skip the bacon and go for butter here - a little animal fat goes a long way, even if it's just dairy. (I say "just," but let's face it: butter is amazing.) And if you want to use this as a side, skip the egg. Or not. Your call.

Asparagus with Bacon and Shallots

2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch batons
1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise on the bias into two-inch pieces
2 tbs. chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbs. chives, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the bacon and reduce the heat to medium-high. Saute until most of the fat is rendered, but the bacon is still a little chewy. Using a slotted spoon, set aside the bacon.

Add the shallot and saute for a few minutes until a little soft. Add the asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute, until the asparagus turns bright green. Add the stock to deglaze the pan stir until it is mostly evaporated. Add one tablespoon of the chives and cook for a minute more.

Transfer to a bowl, top with the rest of the chives (and a fried egg, if that's how you roll), season to taste, and chow down.

Serves one as a main course, two as a side.

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