ASPARAGUS GRATIN

Technikart - SuperCannes - - La Voix Royale - RANDALL PRICE WITH NI­CO­LAS CHERATI

• 1 bunch thick asparagus, of any co­lor

• Olive oil

• 60 g / 1/2 cup gra­ted Pe­co­ri­no cheese

• 60 g / 1/2 cup gra­ted buf­fa­lo moz­za­rel­la

• A few fresh bread crumbs, or chop­ped ha­zel­nuts

• Fre­sh­ly ground pep­per

• Sea salt

Pú­cas are ve­ry gree­dy spi­rits with re­fi­ned taste. Bal­thus is al­most as ex­ci­ted ex­cite as I am when it’s asparagus sea­son, as it is now. The fa­mous white and Pro­ven­çal vio­let co­lors are in the Cannes For­ville Mar­ket as well as the low­ly green asparagus. I love them all! Ce­le­bra­ting them du­ring their short sea-son of glo­ry is one of my best plea­sures. Hu­mans al­ways talk about how asparagus makes their pee smell fun­ny. I as­ked Bal­thus about this. It’s the same for Pú­cas, with an ex­cep­tion: when they eat asparagus, it makes their Pú­ca-pee smell like orange flo­wers.

I will take his word for it.

Here’s an ea­sy way to va­ry your per­so­nal Asparagus Ex­pe­rience.

The im­por­tant step in this is to peel the asparagus. It’s a pain, but you can use more of the length this way and avoid the an­noyin­gly tough fi­bers. Cut all the spears to the same length. If you are an asparagus ma­niac like I am, you can hoard all the cut-off ends un­til you have en­ough to make soup!

Blanch the spears in boi­ling wa­ter just un­til they sur­ren­der their ri­gi­di­ty. This de­pends on the thi­ck­ness and age. Pick one up by the stem end and see if the up­per part slouches. Re­fresh in ice wa­ter and pat dry.

Light­ly oil a gratin dish and ar­range the spears in single-file on it. Sprinkle with the cheeses, and the bread crumbs or ha­zel­nuts. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and grind over some fresh pep­per and sprinkle with salt.

Bake about 20 cm / 8 inches un­der a hot broi­ler un­til the cheese melts, browns and sizzles.

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