Foodie Blog

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter, part 2 - asparagus and tomato-bacon stew

So, yes, asparagus.  Picky hadn't tried asparagus until he met me.  A few months ago, I made him try it.  He loved it!  He couldn't believe how good it tasted.  I think he just had this kind of mistrust of green vegetables because he assumes they are all going to taste like spinach.  Um, yeah, he now realizes they each have their own unique tastes.

Normally, I like to roast the veggies under the broiler because I feel that roasting brings out a really nice, almost caramelized flavor to the veggies.  Try it sometime!  The great thing about the broiler is that it cooks the veggies very quickly.  Something like asparagus takes only 8 minutes, which is huge because Picky may be patient when it comes to his job, but he is very impatient when it comes to other things, like food that should already be in his belly.

But this preparation of asparagus was something I hadn't tried before.  I have steamed asparagus in water before, but I had never used chicken stock.  And you know, it makes sense that cooking your veggies this way would add some flavor to your veggies.  I'm not sure why I never thought of it before.  I need to try this out on other veggies.

 Asparagus and Tomato-Bacon Stew
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home

Picky was really expecting some green beans and maybe some sauce, but I switched it up on him!  Thankfully, asparagus and bacon are things that he loves, so I didn't worry about whether he would like it.  He actually loved it, and I loved it too!

3 ounces applewood smoked thick sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch lardons
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
one 14 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes
Canola oil (optional)
2 1/2 pounds large asparagus, trimmed and peeled
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock
extra virgin olive oil

Pour 2 tablespoons water into a medium saucepan and set over medium heat.  Add the bacon, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the bacon render its fat for 30 minutes.  The bacon will color but not become completely crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Pour off all but 1 to 2 tablespoons fat from the pan, reserving the extra fat.  Set the pan over medium heat, ad the leeks, onion, and garlic to the fat, stir tot coat, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the veggies are soft.  Add the tomatoes, with their juice, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Transfer the whole tomatoes and some of the juice to a food processor, blender, or use a hand blender and puree.  Stir the tomatoes back into the pan, return to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 15 minutes.  Stir in bacon and reduce the heat to low.

Heat a large frying pan that will hold half the asparagus in a single layer over medium-low heat.  Pour a film of the reserved bacon fat or canola oil into the pan.  Arrange half the asparagus in the pan, pour 3 tablespoons of the stock over it, and sprinkle with salt.  Cook until the asparagus is tener but not limp, 6 to 7 minutes.  Season with additional salt to taste and arrange the asparagus on a platter.  Repeat with the remaining asparagus.

Spoon the sauce in a band across the asparagus.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 6.

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