Last week at the Ballard Farmers’ Market, we bought three pounds of asparagus. This was on top of the pound we’d bought the day before at the University District Farmers’ Market. Yes we love asparagus. The simplest way we prepare it is simply roasted asparagus with Parmesan. However, this year we’re trying a number of new ways to cook this delicious springtime treat.
Asparagus is very good for you. It has a high level of folic acid, helps relieve PMS symptoms, helps lower cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure, has some anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, and is even considered an aphrodisiac! It is also simple to cook.
A few words about today’s ingredients. The amazing shout-it-from-the-rooftops pancetta is from Sea Breeze Farms. Seriously… this is the best pancetta I have ever had. Smoky, peppery, delicious. I would eat this for every meal if I could afford it. We rendered a little bit of fat from a Mangalitsa-sired pork chop we were having for dinner in a pan over low heat and then used that to help cook the rest of the dish. The asparagus was from Alvarez Farms. We also used a little bit of Washington white wine.
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1/4 lb pancetta (bacon would also work)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Salt and pepper
Slice the pancetta (or bacon) into small chunks.
Snap the tough ends off of the asparagus and slice the rest of the stalks into 1-2 inch pieces.
In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium low heat. This not only crisps the pancetta, but it also renders the fat. There should be a thin layer of rendered fat in the pan. If not, you can add a bit of lard or olive oil once the pancetta or bacon is crispy.
Add the asparagus and turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring regularly, until the asparagus is bright green but still al dente, about 10 minutes. Add the white wine and scrape up all of the browned bits from the pancetta. Cook until the wine has disappeared. Plate and serve.
Results: We loved this dish. The pancetta is fantastic, as always, and the flavor really melded well with the asparagus. But since there are really only 3 ingredients (minus the salt and pepper), the flavor of the asparagus really shines through. You can certainly cook the dish longer and have softer asparagus, but I really enjoyed the slight crunch the stalks still had when I pulled the pan off the stove. The crispy stalks had a very clean flavor, which was a perfect balance to the pork. This recipe (or a variation of it) will be on our list as long as asparagus is around.