Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Asparagus with lemon sauce

Dinner was rosemary pork chops and right now asparagus is a cent less than broccoli so the choice was clear.  I used to think that a sauce on asparagus had to be hollandaise, which is egg yolk based and extremely high in fat. I love hollandaise but it's really bad for me so I wanted an alternative.  Hollandaise is predominantly lemon flavor so a simple lemon sauce can replace it. This is where making a good chicken stock shows it's worth. If your stock is delicious, the lemon will bring it to life and they'll sing together.  If your stock isn't full of flavor you will just have a lemon sauce, it will be good but not great.

To prep the asparagus hold one stalk by the root end with your fingers.  Bend the tip end down till the stalk snaps.  Do this again with another stalk and take the longest of the two tips. Cut the rest of the asparagus tips to this length.  If you don't have an asparagus steamer I've found the easiest way to cook it is lying down in a wide pan of salted water. If you are making stock put the root ends in the pot, otherwise just dispose of them. Put the tips in the boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes till a fork goes in with a slight snap. If you overcook them they'll be mushy.

To make the sauce I started with one or two teaspoons of cooking oil and a similar amount of butter on medium low heat. When the butter was melted I added a heaping teaspoon of flour and cooked off the flour taste. It should sizzle a bit but not darken.  Take off the heat and whisk in an ounce of stock.  Add more stock till you have a thick sauce.  Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a good pinch of salt.  Taste it, you'll probably want to add half that much juice again but make it to your taste. Put it back on the burner and add more stock if it gets too thick. Plate your asparagus and spoon sauce over top. Don't put too much just because you have it, you'll drown the meal. It's better to lose a little than use it all and spoil everything.

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