Friday, May 16, 2014

Spicy Garlic & Dill Pickled Asparagus

 
There are times in the kitchen when hard work pays off. For example, the repeated folding, rolling and chilling of dough all for the momentary pleasure of the sweet, yeasty scent and crispy layers of buttery, flaky croissants.

Another example would be paella; more than a dozen ingredients including pricey saffron and fresh seafood to be prepped, layered and cooked in an intricately timed dance (ideally) over an open fire.


 
The result of these efforts should be celebrated with great ceremony and company, for they do not happen nearly as often as they should. *Side note, if you’re having a paella party this summer, please invite me.
 
Then there are the culinary triumphs that require no practically no skill at all, yet still yield delicious results, such as pickling. Hardly a recipe and more of a technique—a lifestyle really—a refrigerator with jars of various pickles will yield countless satisfying meals. We’ve talked about it before;  it merely involves chopping up the freshest produce from your CSA basket or nearest farmers market and dunking it in a savory brine for at least 24 hours and up to 2 months (but probably even much, much longer than that).




This is my latest pickle permutation; a spicy batch of garlic-and-dill-flavored asparagus spears. If the first thing that popped into your head was “Bloody Mary!”, then you clearly you, dear reader, are awesome.   *Side note, if you’re having brunch next weekend, please invite me.

 
Spicy Garlic & Dill Pickled Asparagus
 
Serves 12-14 as an appetizer
 
360g (1½ cups) distilled white vinegar
360g (1½ cups) water
54g (3 tablespoons) kosher salt
2 dried birds eye chiles
5 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 small head garlic, peeled
3 sprigs fresh dill
 
Trim the tough ends (usually 1-2 inches from the bottom) of the asparagus. If the spears are especially large, steam over simmering water for 3 minutes until bright green, yet still very crisp. If the asparagus are pencil thin, skip the steaming step. Place the asparagus in a container just large enough to hold them, along with the garlic and fresh dill.
Combine the vinegar, water, salt, chiles, peppercorns and bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and whisk until the salt is dissolved, then pour over the asparagus until they are fully submerged. Allow to cool uncovered until room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least one day and for up to two months (or probably longer!)

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