Welcome to 2012, folks. Hopefully The World doesn't end this year, but if it does, kudos to the Mayans!
This recipe has far fewer photos than I am accustomed to. This is because I only decided to post it AFTER it was cooked. As you can see, I've been Mr. Delinquent-Pants on this blog, and the whole log-in-be-creative-upload-a-bunch-of-crap-fix-the-spelling-thing has weighed heavily on my psyche the last few months. Plus, I've been busy with Christmas and New Years, so boo! Happy New Year's by the way, I wish all of you all the best in what may be the final year of human history -- or maybe not.
In spite of this doom-and-gloom possibility, I did make a resolution: I have decided to keep my beer consumption down to 1 litre a day (on average). I am already a pint in the hole (on January 3rd!) so this is clearly no mean feat. I think the Russian and Viking elements of my genome keep kicking the snot out of the Native American parts, but I am hoping (against previous experince and recorded history) against hope that willpower will prevail! (Ok, stop laughing...on with the recipe!)
I was inspired to whip this up by Jamie Oliver. His Jamie at Home cookbook has a gardening section in which he casually mentions in the asparagus section that the stuff cleans your liver. HOW IS THIS SOMETHING I ONLY LEARN AT 44 YEARS OF AGE?!?! Naturally, I've been eating tons of the stuff ever since (in spite of the pee thing and the eat local thing -- this is medicinal, and hence gets an exemption).
Finally, the tertiary source is The Art of Living according to Joe Beef. It inspires me because it has Joe in it. It also resonates because it's all about good cooking, lots of fat, lots of libations, and gardening. What could be better? Seriously! I'm asking you!!
ANYWAY, here we go. All you need is a bunch of asparagus, a clove of garlic, some lardons (Joe Beef has a whole text box on lardons according to the seasons -- so great!), a bit of parm, some salt, some chile, and a groovy skillet.
If you live anywhere near me, and if you keep you skillets under the sink, the damn things will be freaking freezing when you take them out to cook. I like to sit them on the stove under low heat (e.g. 1 or 2 on my electric stove) to warm up a little before I get started. So do that.
While that's happening, chop the bottoms off of your asparagus (I do this while the elastics are still on -- it is way easier. I used a square skillet, and sliced the stems so they would fit.) Then soak the heads in a bowl of water to ease the sand out.
Chop some lardons and pop them in the skillet. Crank the heat to medium (YEAH, CRANK IT!) so the fat will render. While that's going on, get a clove of garlic from those groovy folks at Rainbow Heritage Gardens and slice it up.
When the lardons are getting crispy, add your garlic. Stir that around for a second. Then add the asparagus and let it fry away for a couple of minutes, stirring and/or shaking it around as you see fit. Towards the end, add a dash of piment d'esplette or some similar chile pepper, stir that around, and then get it on a plate (you can test a spear if you like, but cooking asparagus is more about warming it up that cooking it). Add a dash of salt too -- I used Himalayan salt, which always kind of freaks me out; I mean who am I to take some salt that settled in an ocean a million years ago, made it up to Mt. Everest, and then eat it so it ends up in my body or back in some lake again? This is seriously heavy cooking.
sidecar. Three cheers for resolutions! :D