Asparagus Ragout with Tomatoes and Chervil

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2 pounds fresh white asparagus
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
15 tablespoons butter
1 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground white pepper
Dash of tabasco
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh chervil leaves
16 to 20 small red cherry tomatoes




Bring 16 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Add 2 generous pinches of salt, 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of the butter. Meanwhile, trim about 1/2-in. from the ends of the asparagus. Lay spears on a work surface, then peel thin skin from each with a sharp swivel blade vegetable peeler, starting 1 1/2-in. from the top and running the length of the spear. (Spears are brittle and can snap when peeled in midair.) Gather spears into 4 bundles, tie loosely with kitchen string, and lower into simmering water. Cook, increasing heat to medium high if necessary to maintain a simmer, until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 8 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness. Lift bundles from simmering water and drain on paper towels.

Boil wine and shallots in a medium heavy pan over medium high heat until reduced by three quarters, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream and reduce again by half, 5 to 7 minutes; reduce heat to low. Cut remaining 12 tablespoons butter into pieces, then whisk into pan, a few pieces at a time, until smooth. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste, Tabasco, and remaining lemon juice. Cover and keep warm for up to 15 minutes.

Chop half the chervil and set aside. Untie string from asparagus, then cut spears into 1 1/2-in. lengths and add to warm beurre blanc. Cook for 1 minute, stirring gently until well coated. Add tomatoes and chopped chervil and stir gently, then spoon into a warm serving dish. Garnish with remaining chervil. Serve warm.


Active Time:  20 Minutes
Total Time:  35 Minutes
Yield:  4 Servings

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