(Recipe #9, pages 50 – 51)
Peel each spear thinly from tip to base; cut off where it becomes tough. Another, better way to peel asparagus, is to insert a sharp knife under the thick peel at the base and remove it all at once, peeling it all around. With some practice, this technique is easy to master. Then wash the asparagus, tie it in bundles (the tips must be the same height and the bottoms cut off evenly), and cook it in plenty of water at a moderate boil, because otherwise the tips will fall apart. When the asparagus is tender, lay the bundles on a warm platter, use scissors to cut the twine and remove it, arrange the spears gracefully, and sprinkle with nutmeg and some ground zwieback.
Add an asparagus sauce or warm melted butter and chopped yolks of hardboiled eggs (separately). Side dishes: braised veal, cutlets, fried chicken, roast veal, smoked salmon, summer sausage, raw ham, scrambled eggs.
If the asparagus is thick and fresh, it needs only ¾ of an hour once it begins to boil, otherwise 1 hour. If the asparagus is brought to the table soon after cooking, it is better to leave it in its water over heat until time to serve it. Asparagus tips prepared for fricasseeing, cut a good half-inch wide, will cook in ¼ hour.
Note: If the asparagus is good and very fresh, many asparagus lovers don’t bother with peeling it; do as you choose.
Translated by David Green.