In the next week or so asparagus should be making its grand entrance at most of the farmers markets here in northeast Ohio. Since we try to buy most of our vegetables from local producers we typically find ourselves scrambling to find good recipes as things come into season. On the whole, I think we’re actually ahead of the game a little bit since we have a couple of seasons under our belt. Always looking to add to the arsenal, this little recipe from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc is about as easy as they come.
I think on the whole the recipe is pretty good; it certainly has plenty of room for free styling if you so choose. I like the fact that there are roughly five ingredients that aren’t oil, salt, pepper, or water. Nothing sucks worse than skipping the mis en place and finding that you don’t have enough of something, (five ingredients make it that much easier to do). Note that the Chive Oil needs to be made the day before. I tried the mandolin on these suckers and found it a little difficult. (I am terrified of shaving off the top of my knuckles.) Make sure you get rid of the toughest parts of the asparagus. If you get thicker pieces they don’t cook up very well. Make sure your asparagus are thin pencil like stalks.
By Thomas Keller Ad Hoc
1 cup ½ inch pieces chives
1 cup canola oil
Put the chives in a fine mesh basket strainer and run under hot tap water to soften them and remove any chlorophyll taste. Drain them and squeeze as dry as possible.
Put half the chives in a Vita-Mix, add oil just to cover, and blend for 2 minutes. Add half the remaining chives and oil to cover and blend for another 2 minutes. Add the remaining chives and oil and blend for another 2 minutes. Pour into a container and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Place a piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and secure with a rubber band to make a smooth, tight surface. Pour the chive oil onto the cheesecloth and let sit for an hour to allow the oil to drip through.
Remove and discard the cheesecloth; do not wring out the cheesecloth, or it may cloud the oil. Refrigerate the oil in a covered container for 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Makes about ½ cup
6 Tbs water
1 tsp canola oil
1 Tbs honey
3 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems, washed and patted thoroughly dry
Pour the water into a small bowl and freeze until the water is ice-cold.
Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the honey and heat to melt and lightly caramelize it for a few seconds. Add the parsley with the honey and wilt it, about 30 seconds. Transfer the contents of the pan to the ice-cold water to chill the parsley leaves.
Transfer the parsley and liquid to a Vita-Mix and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh basket strainer into a storage container. The parsley water can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
Makes a scant ½ cup
1 ½ lbs. pencil-thin asparagus
3 Tbs chive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup Parsley Water
Divide the asparagus in half and bundle each with a rubber band. Snap off the bottom of 1 stalk of asparagus to see where it breaks naturally. Cut across the bunches to trim all of the spears to the same length.
Slice on a Japanese mandolin. Alternatively, you can slice the asparagus with a sharp chef’s knife.
Put the tips in a large frying pan, add the chive oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat, swirling the ingredients together, until the tips are coated with oil and begin to sizzle, 1 ½ - 2 minutes. Add the asparagus rounds and cook until the edges look cooked but the centers are still raw. Add 3 tablespoons of the parsley water, stir to coat, and cook until the asparagus is tender, 1 ½ - 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining parsley water, and stir to coat.