Before asparagus, the Goldilocks of springtime veggies, makes its celebrated appearance at the Greenmarket, the weather has to be just right—warm, but not too. Thus, its season is short but sweet. To enjoy the tender spears in all their fleeting glory, you need do nothing more than boil them in salted water, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with butter. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t try this offbeat recipe from Jimmy’s No. 43 chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark.
Phillip Kirschen-Clark’s Local Asparagus With Goat’s-Milk Dulce de Leche and Horseradish
2 quarts goat’s milk, available at Lynnhaven farm at Union Square Greenmarket
1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 bunches thick asparagus
3-inch nub of fresh horseradish root, peeled (available at Paffenroth Gardens or Muddy River farm stands)
Fleur de sel (for garnish)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Arugula flowers, available at Windfall Farms
To make the dulce de leche, gently simmer the goat’s milk, brown sugar, and salt over low heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and let reduce for roughly 3 hours until 1 cup remains. (1) To trim asparagus, snap the stalks at the point where they break naturally, and discard the bottoms. Lay the spears on a cutting board with all the tips aligned, and slice evenly across the ends so the spears are all the same length. (2) Remove the small tips along the sides of each spear with the point of a paring knife. Wash asparagus thoroughly. (3) With butcher’s string, tie the asparagus in 2 or 3 bundles of 8 to 10 spears apiece with the tips pointing inward. Boil asparagus in a large pot of salted water over high heat until tender, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. To serve, gently warm the dulce de leche sauce over low heat, then swipe some down the center of a plate to create a long streak. Place a bundle of asparagus across the streak of sauce, then grate horseradish over the spears with a Microplane grater. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fleur de sel and arugula flowers.