Quick-Braised Asparagus with a Dijon, White Wine, and Fresh Thyme Pan Sauce
Recipe by Susie Middleton
I won’t fool you; these asparagus look a bit rustic. But the browning in this recipe pays off with deep flavor. The glazy pan sauce cloaks the asparagus in even more flavor, and this is one tasty dish. It’s a quick one, too—easy to do in less than 30 minutes. Serve it with pork tenderloin and couscous on a weeknight or sear-roasted pork loin and a grain pilaf on a weekend.
This method works best with asparagus that are of equal thickness—medium or just slightly larger than medium. “Pencils” will overcook. You can do this with jumbos, as long as the most of the woody stem is cut off and you add on an extra minute of browning. Whether the asparagus is medium or thick, just be sure that the pan is not overcrowded so that each piece can make contact with the pan surface for browning. For this one, you’ll definitely want your tongs handy for flipping the asparagus over. Also, cover the pan as soon as you pour in the little bit of liquid; it reduces quickly, and it’s the steam—captured by the lid—that finishes cooking the asparagus.
1/4 C. /60 ml low-sodium chicken broth
2 T. dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1 bunch medium-thick asparagus, trimmed to 6-in/15.25-cm lengths (yielding about 10 oz/285 g)
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 t. roughly chopped fresh thyme
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
Combine the chicken broth and white wine in a liquid measuring cup.
In a 10-in/25-cm straight-sided sauté pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and 1/2 Tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, add the asparagus and salt and toss the asparagus well to coat. Arrange in one layer and cook, without stirring, until the undersides are nicely browned, about 4 minutes.
Using tongs, turn each spear over and cook, without stirring, just until the other side is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully (they will sputter) pour the liquids into the pan and immediately cover it. Simmer until the liquid reduces almost completely (1 or 2 tsp will be left), about 2 minutes. Uncover, take the pan off the heat, and add the remaining 1/2 Tbsp of butter, the thyme, and the Dijon. Stir gently with a silicone spatula to mix the mustard with the melting butter and to incorporate any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter or plates and pour the pan sauce over it, scraping all of the sauce out of the pan.
Recipe reprinted from Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton with permission from Chronicle Books. Fast Fresh & Green is available in bookstores now!