Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Asparagus Means Springtime

Even though the asparagus we are seeing all over the markets now is from Mexico at best, this vegetable still indicates the beginning of spring in my book.  It is hard to suppress the urge to buy it every chance I get, lest I become tired of the delicate flavor before our local asparagus shows it's gorgeous stalks in May.  Really it is worth the wait for the local stuff, but after months of kale and Brussels sprouts, the temptation is too much to resist!

Mimosa is a classic technique/topping that has absolutely nothing to do with orange juice, champagne, or ladies at brunch.  It is, simply, sieved hard boiled egg yolks.  You can see in the photo that I deviated from tradition and used the whites as well.  This is not proper!  If you want to be true to the term, keep the whites for some other use and keep the mimosa pure.

Asparagus Mimosa
yield: 2-3 servings

1 pound medium asparagus

Kosher salt

2 large eggs, hard boiled, whites reserved for another use

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 T red wine vinegar

2 T olive oil 

1 t dijon mustard

First, rinse your asparagus (or immerse it in a bowl of clean water) without removing the rubber bands, then take your bunch and lay it on your board, leaving one rubber band to hold the bunch in tact.  Take a length of 100% cotton butcher's twine and secure it about 3" from the stem end, and wind it up towards the blossom end, tying it off and removing the rubber band.  Cut the stem end about 1" below the lowest loop of twine.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then lightly salt the water.  While the water is reaching the proper temperature, set up an ice bath for shocking the asparagus.

Blanch the asparagus for about four minutes, or until a knife inserted in the base end pierces the stalk easily.  Immediately transfer to the ice bath to stop the cooking and crisp the stalks.

After the asparagus has cooled, remove from the water, cut the string, and lay out on paper towels to dry.  

While the asparagus is drying, make the vinaigrette by whisking the dijon, vinegar, and oil together in a small bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  For the egg yolks, take a fine mesh strainer and force the  yolks through the wire into a small bowl.  Try not to stir the sieved egg as it will just turn in to paste.

When you are ready to serve this delectable side dish, you can either toss the spears with the dressing, or lay the spears out and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Your choice...both ways work.  Arrange the asparagus on nice plates, and then spoon the mimosa over the top.  If you like, you can garnish with a bit of chive or something of the sort.   

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