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Home » Farm to Kitchen, Side Dishes

Asparagus Ragu

By Helen Brody (May 4, 2012)

Below is a recipe modernized by Nancy Carter Crump from the 1763 edition of The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse. The recipe appears in  the recently published book, Dining with the Washingtons in Mt. Vernon. The Art of Cookery, though first  published in England in 1747, was a popular volume in the colonies for its common sense recipes. Normally served as a side dish, I made half a recipe and served the Asparagus Ragu as a  filling for a Sunday night omelet. It was delicious.

3 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 Belgian endives, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 small head soft-leaf lettuce (Bibb or Boston), cored and shredded
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons all-purposeflour
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

Bring about 2 cups water to a boil over medium heat. Add the asparagus, reduce the heat, and simmer until asparagus is barely, reduce the heat, simmer until asparagus is barely tender. Drain thoroughly, cover, and set aside to keep warm. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and endives, cooking for 5 to 7 minutes until they begin to soften. Stir in the lettuce, salt and pepper, and continue until the vegetables are just tender. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to blend well. Gradually add the stock, stirring until it begins to simmer and thickens slightly. Add asparagus, reserving a few of the tips for garnish and heat until warmed. To serve pour the ragu into a serving dish and garnish with the reserved asparagus tips.

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