Friday, June 8, 2012

Spring Saute over Grits

I got fava beans in my produce box the other week, so it finally feels like spring.  While they are a pain to shell, they are only available for such a short time that it doesn't get to be too much of a burden.  First you shell them from the outer pod, and then boil the shelled beans in salted water for just a couple of minutes, just long enough to loosen the skin around each bean.

Finally, you shell the beans a second time, pulling the skin off each bean with a fingernail.  I think I boiled mine a little too long, because they started breaking down a little as I was pulling the skins off.

I decided to use the favas in a big spring saute, to be served over cheesy grits, so I chopped a bunch of vegetables, including asparagus, yellow carrots, and radishes, and also threw some frozen peas in at the end.

I loosely based the saute recipe of this spring ragout recipe from 101 cookbooks, and also tweaked Alton Brown's recipe for cheesy grits.

Spring Saute with Cheesy Grits
Serves 4

Spring Saute:
~20 fava bean pods, removed from puffy shells 
olive oilkosher salt

1 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments
1 bunch carrots, sliced
red pepper flakes
zest of one lemon
1 bunch radishes, sliced 
1 1/2 cups peas, freshly shelled or frozen
splash of white wine/beer/dry vermouth (tip here on using dry vermouth in place of white wine in recipes)
broth or water

Cook fava beans for about a minute in a pot of salted water. Drain, run under cold water, and shell 2nd layer. To do this pinch each fava to break the skin and gently squeeze to separate the bean from the skin. Set aside. 
In a cold skillet, add a big splash of olive oil, 2 big pinches of salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Heat over medium high heat and when the water starts bubbling add the asparagus spears and sliced carrots. Cover and cook for 30-45 seconds, longer if the asparagus is thicker, until it is barely tender and bright green. Add red pepper flakes to taste/your preference for spicy and the zest of one lemon.  Stir in the peas, radishes, and favas and cook uncovered for another 20 seconds or so (maybe a touch longer if you were using peas that were frozen).  Turn heat down to medium and sprinkle a tablespoon or so of flour over to help make a pan sauce and stir well to incorporate.  Add about 1/3 cup of the alcohol of your choice to help de-glaze the pan and stir well, picking up any flavor/browning stuck to the pan.  Add about 1/2 cup or water or broth and stir well to set up your pan sauce.  Cook another minute or two, until all vegetables are cooked and the pan sauce has lost the raw flour taste.  Serve over grits.

Cheesy Grits:
4 cups broth
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4-1/3 cup grated parmesan

Place the broth and salt into a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal, while continually whisking to help incorporate.  Decrease the heat to low and cover.  Remove the lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent lumps from forming or grits from sticking to the pan.  Cook for 20 -25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.
Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, and whisk to combine.  Once the butter is melted, gradually whisk in the cheese.  

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