Snap off the woody ends rather than cutting, because the spears will break exactly where they need to. Asparagus knows.
Photography by Kip Dawkins | Food styling by J Frank | Prop styling by Tyler Darden
8 cups water
3 bunches asparagus
1 ounce unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄2 of one small onion, diced
1 medium shallot, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
for garnish, unsweetened whipped cream, lemon zest and
juice, salt, sugar
Snap the woody ends off the asparagus, reserving the ends (about 1 1⁄2 inches each). Salt the water and bring it to a boil. Add the asparagus ends and blanch for 8 to 10 minutes, and then fish out and discard them. Meanwhile, cut the rest of the asparagus into 2- to 3-inch lengths. Blanch them in the rapidly boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes, then scoop them out with a strainer and immediately shock them in an ice water bath, to stop the cooking and retain the color.
In a pot, melt the butter with the olive oil, and sauté the onion and shallot until soft but not brown. Add the flour, and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes, until it makes a light roux. Slowly add 3 cups of the asparagus stock and bring to a boil; add in another 3 cups; add 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Bring once more to a boil, and then cool it enough to puree it with the blanched asparagus. (Discard the remaining liquid, or use it for another dish.)
Garnish with a drizzle of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, and finish with a dollop of whipped cream seasoned with grated lemon zest.
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