Growing up, asparagus was an unimaginable luxury. Some thing to dream of eating in superior-ceilinged, white-tableclothed dining establishments with benign maître d’s and silver sauceboats of melted butter. Irrespective of residing within just a small drive of the Vale of Evesham, I didn’t style a single spear right up until I labored in a grand cafe, where by we nicked the odd one particular from the silver salvers on the way to the dining home. To this working day, it nevertheless feels like a luxury.
I experienced tiny plan, then, of what goes into having a bunch into the outlets. The hand-harvesting on bended knees the care that pickers have to get to safeguard the crown, just about every spear reduce just down below the surface of the soil with their trusty asparagus knife and its V-formed blade. Neither did I know anything at all of the treatment taken to get the spears to sector with their fragile recommendations intact. I provide them house from the retailers on the top rated of my procuring bag, the tender bundle snuggled among the brown paper luggage of greens like a infant in a manger.
At this point in the season, when the price has dropped, I will use my spears in a salad with extra fat-framed ribbons of culatello or San Daniele, tuck them into a brown rice pilau with mint and peas or add them to a pastry-topped pie of wide beans, peas and crème fraîche. Asparagus works effectively on the griddle, though I like it finest when you have steamed it briefly 1st. It’s more juicy that way, and you get smoky notes from the grill.
Asparagus and ricotta fritters
As these environmentally friendly-speckled fritters are cooking, preserve an eye on their progress and consider to catch them while their insides are even now soft and a bit creamy. Serves 4
asparagus 2 bunches
spring onions 2
eggs 2, substantial
pecorino 30g, finely grated
basic flour 50g
groundnut or vegetable oil a minor for frying
Place a good mesh sieve over a bowl, insert the ricotta and set aside in the fridge to drain for an hour or more. This will help great the consistency of the batter, which should not be too soaked. Trim the asparagus, eradicating the rough finishes of the stalks. Slice the spears into skinny, modest rounds then place them in a bowl. Finely slice the spring onions. Finely grate the zest from the lemon. Take away the fronds from the dill, chop finely, then add with the lemon zest to the asparagus.
Crack the eggs into a smaller bowl, beat them lightly with a fork, then stir them into the asparagus and dill with a little salt and ground black pepper, the grated pecorino, flour and the strained ricotta. Combine alongside one another lightly but completely.
Heat a minor oil in a shallow pan that doesn’t adhere – you just need a skinny film. Location spoonfuls of the batter in the pan, every one particular remaining about 2 heaped tbsp, flatten the tops a minimal with the again of a spoon, then depart to prepare dinner for 3 or 4 minutes. When the undersides are patchily golden, slide a palette knife below every single one and flip them around and cook dinner the other facet. Do it in just one swift, confident flip.
Grilled rooster with fennel seed and spiced butter
To observe the fritters this week, we ate rooster, marinated and cooked on the griddle. You could request the butcher to bone the hen legs for you. If you fancy obtaining a go yourself, then run your knife by way of the pores and skin and flesh, maintaining the blade as shut as attainable to the bones. Tease the bones away from the flesh of the rooster with your fingers. If there are a couple holes when you have finished, be concerned not. You will not observe them once the meat is on the grill. Serves 4
For the butter:
warm paprika 1 tsp
floor coriander 1 tsp
dried oregano 2 tsp
garlic 2 cloves
lemon zest of 1
For the spice rub:
black peppercorns 1 tsp
fennel seeds 2 tsp
dried thyme 4 tsp
dried rose petals 2 tsp
chicken legs 4, on the bone
lemon or orange wedges
Soften the butter in a bowl with a picket spoon. Mash the paprika, coriander and oregano into the butter alongside one another with a couple twists of the pepper mill.
Peel and crush the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt flakes, then stir into the butter. Finely grate and defeat in the lemon zest. If you are working with the butter straight away, leave in a great position, if you are generating it for later, wrap it tightly in greaseproof paper and keep in the fridge.
Location a hen leg, pores and skin side down, on a chopping board. Applying a quite sharp knife, lower into the flesh and clear away the bone. You will be remaining with a flat rectangle of meat. Place pores and skin aspect down on a tray or plate and go on with the rest. Brush them with a little oil on both equally sides.
Make the spice rub: crush the peppercorns utilizing a pestle and mortar, then stir in the fennel seed and thyme and bash briefly with the pestle. Stir in the rose petals. Sprinkle over the rooster, turning about to period both of those sides, then hold in a amazing put till you are prepared.
Get a griddle pan or frying pan sizzling. Place the rooster, skin facet down, on the pan and cook dinner for about 8 minutes right up until golden, then cook the other side. At the time the hen is cooked – its juices should run obvious, not pink – season generously with salt. Increase most of the butter to the griddle pan and allow it fizz and froth – there will be a tiny smoke – turning the rooster around so it is well coated with the butter.
Serve the chicken on heat plates, with the browned butter spooned more than and a wedge of lemon or orange.
Abide by Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater