One sure sign of Spring, asparagus at the farmers’ market, so perfectly beautiful it needs just a simple preparation, perhaps poached in some ‘magic butter?’
Delicate, almost wild, the thinnest of asparagus remains a familial favorite. After securing this Spring jewel at a local farm stand, my Mom would poach the thin tendrils, with butter to which she added a tablespoon of water, just until crisp-tender. In the Bijouxs kitchen, whether dressed elegantly in a rich hollandaise or here, with a sheer gauze of beurre monté sauce, the woodsy nature of these first tastes of Spring are little jewels to savor.
So what is beurre monté, or as Savuer termed it “magic butter”, all about? Beurre monté in culinary terms refers to mounted butter, which simply is an emulsion of butter and water. Of course the two do not normally mix, however when the two do meet, there is never a more straight-forward sauce.
My first introduction to beurre monté was preparing an elegant dinner for a client, which included a lavish lobster poached in butter from the French Laundry Cookbook. The cookbook reveals the beurre monté process in detail, another resource is Michael Ruhlman’s site (he is after all one of the authors of the French Laundry Cookbook) to discover more about this “workhorse sauce.”
Although it may seem too-rich a proposition to poach anything in butter, pencil-thin spears of asparagus poach quickly, and when gently lifted to the plate with a serving fork, retain a mere glaze of the buttery sauce. The addition of fresh chervil, another first sign of spring, is all that is needed to adorn and tame these wild-like spears.
Beurre monté is a versatile sauce–after all it is just a lighter form of butter. With simple addtions such as fresh herbs, I enjoy it spooned atop delicate vegetables and fish. It also makes a basting sauce for pan-roasted chicken or meats.
Here’s to the first signs of Spring and to magic butter.