Friday, April 16, 2010

The Asparagus are Coming, The Asparagus are Coming: Asparagus with Green Garlic Aioli

I'm a freak. There I admitted it

I just got an email from Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks, a Peapod for locavores, telling me that asparagus will be available in the next delivery. It literally elicited a shriek from me.

I was at a lunch a few weeks back where I was served a beautiful Artic Char topped with steamed pencil asparagus. I pushed those aside and dug into the fish. A friend sitting next to me commented on the irony of me, the head spear, not eating the asparagus. She asked why? I told her because it's not local.

There are only a few foods about which I take such a hard line. Just like tomatoes and strawberries, asparagus is a truly great food, but it just doesn't taste as good when it isn't from around here. No, these foods are worth waiting for.

Like a crocus peeking its head out from under the dead leaf cover, my Fresh Picks email proclaimed spring’s triumphant return.

There's no need to gussy up the first asparagus of the season. Here's my super simple asparagus recipe that I'll be making time and time again until the asparagus make their departure in early June.

Sautéed Asparagus
For 6 servings

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and rinsed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt

Heat the butter in the pan over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the asparagus and toss to coat. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

If you do feel the need to gild the lily, try this aioli. It's also great on lamb.

Green Garlic Aioli
Makes approximately 2 cups

1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup canola oil
1 garlic clove, mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped green garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Food Processor Method: Combine the whole egg, egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard in the bowl of a food processor. Through the feed tube, pour the olive and canola oils in a very slow stream while the machine is on. The aioli is done when it’s thick and emulsified. When fully emulsified, the mixture will make a distinctive slapping sound against the sides of the bowl. Add both garlics. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

By Hand: Combine the egg yolks and mustard in a medium size bowl. Wrap a kitchen towel around the base of the bowl to anchor it. Pour the oils into the egg mixture in a slow stream until the two are emulsified. Add the garlics and lemon juice. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Fixing a broken mayonnaise: It is almost certain that if you make mayonnaise or aioli more than once, it will break. There’s no need to start over. Simply whisk 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard in a mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the broken mayonnaise (make sure that you stir it up first to ensure that you get oil and egg in the sample), whisk together until the mixture thickens. Slowly add the remaining broken mayonnaise, whisking constantly until emulsified.

Doctoring store bought mayonnaise: If you’re concerned about using raw eggs or pressed for time, you can easily doctor a commercially produced mayonnaise. Take 2 cups of store bought mayonnaise (I suggest Hellmann’s) and add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, both garlics called for in this recipe. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

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