Mise en Place: Asparagus

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Welcome to Mise en Place, a journey of culinary delight where anything can happen. Based on the Colorado Department of Agriculture's list of food by month, KRCC takes a look at farmers, chefs, and fodder, all with a Centennial State bent.

Each month, the state's agriculture department highlights a commodity and provides a recipe using that product. We take it a step further.

Venetucci Farms in Colorado Springs is well known for its pumpkins. But as KRCC's Aaron Retka found out, the farm actually has its origins in this month's designated food. Farm manager Susan Gordon talks asparagus with Aaron and takes him on a wild asparagus hunt.

Click below for an Asparagus Soup recipe from Edelweiss Restaurant in Colorado Springs, and a Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Pasta from the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Asparagus Soup
Ana Perez, Edelweiss Restaurant, Colorado Springs, CO

Serves 6

1 lb. fresh asparagus (white or green)
4 oz. butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Steam the fresh asparagus. Cut off tips and save for garnish. Purée in a blender, and strain through chinoise. (A chinoise is a very fine sieve.)

Make a roux with the butter and the flour, but slowly melting the butter and sitting in the flour with a wisk. Let the flour brown just a touch. Constantly stir to thicken.

Add milk, cream, and asparagus purée. Saly and pepper to taste. Garnish with asparagus tops.

Recipe from the Colorado Department of Agriculture: 

Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Pasta
Chef Jason K. Morse, C.E.C., Valley Country Club, Aurora, Colo.
ACF Colorado Chefs Association President

Serves 4

12 oz. Pancetta or Bacon, medium dice
1-1/2 Medium Shallots, sliced
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
8 pieces Morel Mushrooms, sliced
16 pieces Crimini Mushrooms, stem off, sliced
8 pieces Chanterelle Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bunch Asparagus, trimmed, grilled, sliced into pieces
1/4 cup Dry Sherry
Black Ground Pepper to taste
1 bunch Fresh Oregano, leaves only
2 cups Alfredo Sauce, homemade or pre bought
1/2 pound Pasta, shell or trumpet
Parmesan Cheese

In a heavy sauté pan, cook pancetta (or bacon) slowly. When fat is rendered about 80%, remove from heat and transfer pancetta to a paper towel to drain, saving the rendered fat. Sauté the shallots in the fat until slightly colored, then add the cooked bacon or pancetta. Add the garlic and sauté approximately one minute, add the mushrooms and asparagus and sauté until hot.

Deglaze pan with sherry and add the alfredo sauce, stirring well to combine. Add pepper and oregano. In a separate pot, cook pasta, slightly drain and add to the sauté pan. (Do not rinse the pasta, the starch will help thicken the dish.)

Toss the pasta and ingredients well to coat, add extra sauce if needed. Garnish with the shaved Parmesan cheese.

Hidden Web Extra:  Aaron Retka revisits the subject of February's Mise en Place, and converses with a pig at Venetucci Farms.