Asparagus season is almost over, so I better share this now. My spring hash was created to feed people who might normally turn up their noses at asparagus. I was in my mid 20’s living like sardines with friends. Will and Jeff paid me to grocery shop and cook for them. Spring hash was so enjoyed it was renamed Jeff Chow – I was told because “It’s what you feed Jeffs.”
I’ve made this a variety of ways – so I’ve included very few measurements. The keys are:
– Roasted cubed potato with other stuff.
– Fried meat and onions + peas and asparagus.
– Tons of herbs in lemon mayonnaise.
Preheat oven to 400
Sprinkle 1lb. cubed steak (or ground beef) with worcestershire sauce, mustard and salt – stir, set aside.
In a roasting pan: cubed red or yellow potatoes and carrots. Depending on your preferences possibly mushrooms or grape tomatoes (I forgot tomatoes this time around). Drizzle in oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven occasionally flipping veggies with a spatula, about 30min or until nice and browned and tender. Put aside.
Meanwhile in a pan with good sides (it’s going to end up with a lot of stuff in it) fry the cubed steak on high; be brave let it sizzle and brown. Add diced onion.
While it’s all cooking and browning prep 1 bunch of asparagus – snapping the woody ends off and chopping to 1-1.5 inches long. Once the meat and onions (and whatever else you might have thrown in) is cooked reduce the heat to medium and add the asparagus and cover. Let it steam for just a couple of minutes- less time than you think, don’t get distracted here. As soon as they’re bright green (don’t wait a second longer) stir in about 1c frozen peas and turn off the burner. The residual heat warms the peas and the peas cool the mixture and hopefully stop the asparagus from over cooking.
While the peas are warming make the lemon herb mayonnaise. If you’re feeling fancy you could make your own lemon mayo. Otherwise in a very large bowl add lemon juice to 1/2 – 1 cup store bought mayo (depending on how much other stuff you’ve got going on and how creamy you want it). Add an abundance of minced (preferably fresh, although I’ve used some dried) herbs. Parsley, thyme, sage, whatever floats your boat. Sometimes I’ve added fennel or chives. Now add the roast potato mix and the meat asparagus mix to the big bowl of mayo. Stir it up. I like to serve it over baby spinach. Asparagus notes:
Thick or thin matters less than freshness. When shopping I look for tips that are not dry or frayed. Tips should be firm and dark green to purple, not yellow/green. Preferably the grocer (and you) should store them with their cut ends in an inch water – if not I look for bottoms that aren’t too dry. I look for stalks that are plump and not lined with wrinkles. I try to cook them sooner rather than later, this is not an good item to hang out in the fridge for a week.
All asparagus gets a little woody at the base – it’s just a matter of how much. Hold both ends and bend until it snaps naturally. Discard (although some say to save it for making stock) the woody bottom. I’m always a bit dismayed at the amount I’ll be tossing. To assure myself that it is in fact tough and stringy I sometimes take a little bite of the woody end just to remind myself why it’s not going to go well if I include it. If the stalks are thickish (marker diameter) you could chop only an inch or so off and peal the bottoms.
I think the three common flaws of asparagus are:
1) It’s not fresh to begin with.
2) Including too much of the woody/stringy ends.
3) Over cooking (which happens in the blink of an eye, so I still struggle with this)