Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Asparagus Gratin


Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

This was my mantra when we moved from Michigan to Indiana. We were doing or best to live ultra conservatively so that we could make gargantuan strides toward paying down our recently acquired student loans. Too bad life got in the way and our plans for gargantuan loan payments were foiled by several visits to the ER (2 by ambulance), major car repairs for both our vehicles and ya da ya da, life is expensive.

Needless to say, despite our best efforts, we were NOT able to pay down our loans as quickly as we had hoped – Boo! However, we did manage to form some good habits along the way. Perhaps you can’t tell from what I post on this blog, but we actually learned to eat conservatively. For the most part this translates to only dishing what you can eat and for me only cooking and buying what we should eat - in regards to portions, mostly. (I’m still working on the overall health factor, but eating healthy on our budget poses another challenge that I’ll address at a later time.) I have learned to hate wasting food. Perhaps I’m finally beginning to understand what my 1930’s depression-reared grandparents have been trying to teach me for as long as I can remember. – Waste not, Want not.

So here we are in 2011 when it’s chic to be conservative (so long as it pertains to your carbon footprint) and here I’ve got my little family doing our best to be chic. Now this brings me to asparagus ends. You think I’m kidding, right? Who cares about what happens to asparagus ends?!  Throw them in the compost pile! (I’m not that chic yet, we don’t have a garden - therefore, no compost pile.)

Ok truth… I’ve never thought much about asparagus ends or apple cores, chicken bones or bacon fat (although we recently learned that mushrooms sautéed in bacon fat is quite tasty) so why bother about it now?  Because Cook’s Country brought it to my attention, that’s why! Now I want to use ‘em up and Asparagus Gratin, Cooks Country Style, is how you do it.



Of course staying true to ATK fashion, they’ve already tested the alternatives with this recipe and what you have is the best of the best. Of course in the publication there is a detailed explanation as to why you shouldn’t use Gruyere and/or heavy cream but I’m just going to give you the recipe. If you want all that, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the publication yourself or just try the alternatives and see what happens.

Asparagus Gratin

Ingredients:
2 pounds thin asparagus
3 cups water
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Directions:
  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Line broiler safe baking dish with paper towels or a lint free kitchen cloth. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and set both stalks and ends aside.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus ends and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook covered, for 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove asparagus ends and discard. Add asparagus stalks to skillet, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender,2-4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to paper/cloth-lined baking dish. Pour asparagus water into liquid measuring cup. If liquid does not read 1-cup mark, add water until it does.
  3. Melt butter in now empty skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in reserved asparagus water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in ½ cup Parmesan and Monterey jack until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand for 5 minuets.
  4. Remove paper towels from baking dish. Drizzle sauce over center of asparagus and top with remaining Parmesan. Broil until cheese is golden and asparagus is tender, 4-8 minutes. Serve.
Notes:
For a little something extra you can add bacon crumbles or sautéed mushrooms to the top of the asparagus before broiling. Also I noticed that each time I made this dish the cheese sauce was fairly thick. The only thing I altered was the use of shredded Parmesan cheese v. grated Parmesan – perhaps that difference determines why my sauce appeared to be thicker than the photo in Cooks Country. Since we didn’t have anything to compare the difference to, we had no complaints.


Gwenevere

45 comments:

Boy said...

This dish is delicious even heated up five days later!

kankana said...

This is like a whole new level for gratins. Loving it!

Chris's Gourmet Fashion said...

Looks very pretty! Love asaragus.

The Harried Cook said...

I can so relate with all that you said :) Sounds all too familiar! The asparagus dish looks fabulous! I think asparagus would be my favorite veggie & I will make a gratin the next time I get my hands on some! Thanks for sharing :)

Apron Appeal said...

Harried Cook-Asparagus is one of my favorite veggies too. It's been missing for most of my life. My mom never prepared it for us growing up and I remember having it once at my grandma's and it was boiled and so overdone that I never wanted it again. I took my chances and tried it after I was married and wouldn't cha know it...when prepared correctly...It's delicious!

Lizzy said...

Oh, yum!!! I've printed this one off to try...maybe all the cheesy goodness with help my youngest become a fan of asparagus :)

Apron Appeal said...

Lizzy...add bacon crumbles too. I'm a fan of doing just about whatever it takes to get kids to eat their veggies.

Claire Gallam said...

I would eat this all in one second. YUM.

Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels said...

I love the idea of an asparagus gratin. My mama would LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thanks for the great recipe. :)

Kathryn said...

I love your idea of adding sauteed mushrooms to this, but it definitely looks amazing on its own, too! I've never made any kind of gratin before, but I love eating it!

Apron Appeal said...

Kathryn, This was my first go at from scratch gratin. It was much easier than I thought it would be.

Laurie@TheBakingBookworm said...

I'm a HUGE asparagus fan ... add cheese and I'm in love! Usually I roast or grill asparagus with some balsamic and fresh Parmesan but I'm definitely going to give this a try. :)

Jen at The Three Little Piglets said...

I'm with Laurie - huge asparagus fan as well. This looks beautiful and sounds amazing!

Erin said...

Oh, I love asparagus! This looks yummy! Maybe adding all this cheese and some bacon could get my husband to eat it! I love it roasted normally!

Katie said...

Oh. My. Goodness. Asparagus just got even better!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fabulous but someone else ate the leftovers

Olivia said...

Yum yum Asparagus gratin! Does it get any better than this? No! :) This was easy to make but was a hit with my picky daughter, which is what I was going for. Also, someone mentioned leftovers - they were great the next day for lunch!

Ava said...

I made this about a month ago and it was a fabulous. I also took the suggestion and put the bacon on it, which make it simply awesome! I really need to make this again...I tend to collect so many recipes I forget the ones I really liked. I need a better organization system.

Booklady said...

I cannot wait to try this, it looks delicious!
I also noticed that when I use packaged, shredded parmesan it tended to be thicker or even "lumpy." Then I discovered that many brands of packaged cheese contains an additive that prevents it from sticking together and this often causes sauces to thicken or clump. I try to use fresh cheeses and grate them myself when possible...if they aren't too expensive. Keep posting your wonderful recipes!

Mariah said...

Going to try this for a Christmas Eve Dinner! Does anyone know if I can bake this instead of broil?

Dottie said...

While browsing the internet, on pinterest no less, my husband found this recipe and brought it to my attention. I can't wait to try this!

Michael said...

Sounds delish!

Anonymous said...

Looks awesome! I can't wait to try this when the asparagus is back in season. I think I will crack some organic eggs on top before I put it under the broiler and make it meal! With a loaf of crusty bread. Yum!

Anonymous said...

It's in the oven now! Looks awesome!

Anonymous said...

This was yummy! We had this for dinner tonight. I cut the asparagus into large pieces and then drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil on them with lots of salt and pepper. Then I roasted at 400 for 10 minutes. Then I topped with the au gratin sauce and cheese and broiled it for 5 more minutes. Amazing!

Mary said...

This looks amazing! I have no idea how I missed it last year, but I just now stumbled onto it via Pinterest. Can't wait to try it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

One difference may be....all store bought grated cheese has corn starch mixed in it to keepit seperated. This could account for the thicker or creamy texture.

Nikki said...

Made this last night (found the recipe on Pinterest) and LOVED it!! Thank you!

Rachel R. said...

Thank you for watermarking your photo! I found your picture on Pinterest, but it was pinned from someplace weird (some foodie finds site or something - I think another "collection" site similar to Pinterest). I was able to find it because your URL is on the image. (And I updated the link in my pin. :) )

JustOneMe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leenie said...

I made this tonight and absolutely LOVED it! Even my three old was a fan! Thanks for sharing...

undecidedmamas.com
Leenie

Megze said...

I'm going to ask a silly question - why do you have to line the broiling pan with cloth or paper towels?

liza tanganelli said...

Thanks for the recipes. We loved it!!! Living in Italy we don't have any Monterey Jack cheese, so I opted for a similar cheese.
In the fridge I had a piece of fresh truffle...so I added it to the broth diminution and it gave to the dish such an exquisite and particular taste. Definitely a option to take in consideration....and for sure a recipe to note down in my book! thank you!
Liza

Apron Appeal said...

Megze - sorry to take so long to get back to you. The paper towels or lint free cloth are to soak up the excess water from the asparagus before cooking it. I imagine it's not a very important step, but one that I did anyway (I'm a crazy rule follower....or at least I've been known to be)

Miriam Onofre said...

Is there a video for this?

Apron Appeal said...

Miriam - I wish there was a video for this, but alas, my video editing days are almost a memory. Maybe that is something I can think about for a future post.

Velda Crotty said...

The past 50 years, I have made a gravy, added the asparagus and serve it over toast. Creamed Asparagus on toast. It is so good. If you don't want to make a gravy, you can use cream of mushroom soup. Tastes great too.

Kathy Peak said...

Fantastic recipe!!! Cheese sauce was a little thick but I added a bit more butter and water to get the consistency I wanted. I also sautéed portobello mushrooms in butter, olive oil, pepper and garlic and put on top of cheese sauce after putting over the asparagus as suggested, then sprinkled the rest of the parmesan cheese on before broiling. If you love asparagus, you must try this recipe at least once.

KayHeartsIce said...

I'm wondering why you have to cook the asparagus woody ends if they're just going to be thrown out? Sounds delish though! Will definitely be trying with bacon!

Purfkzn said...

This looks absolutely delicious. Can this be made in advance? Does it need to be served immediately? I would like to take this to my cooking club but would need to make it ahead and transport.

Apron Appeal said...

To be honest this is such a hit that I cannot even tell you how it reheats, it is eaten immediately.
However you should be able to prepare the entire dish as described in the recipe and leave the final step, the broiling, to be done at the party.

How far in advance were you needing to prepare it?

Apron Appeal said...

Kay, the ends are cooked to add flavor to the water used to cook the asparagus. If this is a step that you would like to omit you may however although you would not want to eat the ends they do have a lot of flavor.

Purfkzn said...

Would need to prepare this about one hour in advance... Think that would work?

tamenunu said...

Tryed this recipe tonight. First time ever making asparagus. AHmazing! Son loved it and so did I. Running over to the market tomorrow for 2 more lbs. Thank you soooo much. Our tummy thanks you

Michele said...

Sounds great! I'll be trying this very soon, like tomorrow, since I have 5 pounds of asparagus in the fridge.

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