When you hear the phrase “poached vegetable,” you probably think of a variation of blanching: a method that involves boiling vegetables in water, then quickly shocking them in ice water so they don’t overcook. This technique helps vegetables retain their verdant color, while cooking them *just* enough so that their hard exteriors give way to a tender crunch instead. But while blanching yields perfectly crisp snap peas or asparagus, it lends very little to flavor.
Why simply poach your asparagus in water or stock alone, when you can imbue them with rich, buttery flavor? The technique I used here involves a beurre monté, a water and butter emulsion; this gives the proteins in the butter a little buffer from the heat of the pan, so that it doesn’t over-brown or burn while the asparagus cooks. The sauce may break for a moment, but do not fear—it will re-emulsify when you bring it back to the heat with a splash of rosé, which adds gentle minerality, and slight sweetness. Naturally, this dish is best served with a crisp, cool glass of rosé (or any refreshing drink of choice) and a summery main dish, like grilled fish or burgers. —Emily Ziemski
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is a part of Wine Week—seven days celebrating all things wine—presented in partnership by our friends at Bread & Butter Wines. —Food52
unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size cubes
(10 to 14 stalks) asparagus, ends trimmed
kosher salt, plus more to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving
Heat 3 tablespoons of water in a large skillet over medium-high heat until simmering. Reduce the heat to low. Add the butter cubes one at a time, whisking constantly, until the mixture is homogeneous. Add the asparagus and season with salt. Cook, on low heat, occasionally spooning the butter over the asparagus, until the asparagus is fork tender, about 13 to 15 minutes. (The butter sauce may separate for a moment here; it'll come back together when you make the wine sauce.)
Using tongs, remove the asparagus from the pan and transfer to a serving platter.
Add the thyme and wine to the pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the liquid has slightly reduced and is slightly darker, about 6 minutes. (The butter may start to brown a little—that’s ok!) Remove the thyme from the pan, and salt the sauce as needed.
Serve the asparagus topped with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Serve immediately, with any extra sauce and lemon wedges on the side.
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