Asparagus: Hard to pair with wine, great with meat

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The same natural chemistry that makes asparagus so notoriously hard to pair with wines also gives it a fresh grassy flavor that makes it an excellent match for so many foods.

The same natural chemistry that makes asparagus so notoriously hard to pair with wines also gives it a fresh grassy flavor that makes it an excellent match for so many foods. Sweet foods, such as succulent scallops or shrimp, go well with the earthy, green flavors of springs’ most famous sprout. But so do salty ingredients, such as bacon, prosciutto or a pungent blue cheese. Asparagus and nuts also marry well. This recipe pairs the vegetable with the sweetness of slivered almonds cooked in butter until both are golden brown. It pairs nicely with prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin, the sauce for which continues the almond theme. Asparagus with browned butter and sliced almonds Start to finish: 20 minutes Servings: 8 2 pounds thin, green asparagus, woody stems trimmed 5 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup sliced almonds Salt, to taste In a large skillet over medium-high, bring 1 inch of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 4 minutes depending on the size of the spears. Drain and transfer to a serving plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the butter. When melted, add the almonds and cook, stirring often, until the butter is dark brown and the almonds are golden. Season with salt. To serve, spoon the almonds and browned butter over the asparagus. Prosciutto-wrapped pork ten- derloin with Port-almond   veloute Start to finish: 40 minutes Servings: 8 6 tablespoons butter, divided 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 cups chicken broth, divided Salt and ground black pepper 2 shallots, thinly sliced 1/4 cup sliced almonds 2 ounces Port wine 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total), cut into 8 thick medallions 4 slices proscuitto, halved length wise 2 tablespoons canola oil Heat the oven to 400 F. In a medium saucepan over medium-high, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Cook until lightly browned, then add the flour. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture forms a thickly, lightly browned paste (roux). Add 2 cups of the broth, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in a saute pan over medium-low, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallots and saute until translucent, then add the almonds and cook for 5 minutes. Add the Port and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Add the thickened roux to the shallots and almonds, mixing well. The sauce will be quite thick. Add the remaining cup of chicken broth to thin as desired. Cover and set aside. Wrap each pork medallion in a strip of proscuitto. Season with salt and pepper. In an oven-safe saute pan over medium-high, heat the canola oil. Add the wrapped pork medallions and sear the tops and bottoms until nicely browned. Place the pan in the oven to cook for another 8 minutes. To serve, spoon the Port-almond sauce onto plates and place a pork medallion over it. AP

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