Sunchoke Dumplings with Smoky Asparagus Puree and Bacon Matchsticks
A great dish is more often than not comprised of three elements. This is no exception. You have a healthy yet creamy vegetable in the asparagus puree. Mix in a staple starch but do it with a seasonal, unique base a la sunchokes. Finish the whole thing with a perfect protein (homemade bacon fits the bill, no?) and you have a plate fit for a prince, king and queen. If you have your own little prince or princess at home you’ll probably agree that a meal that suits the tastes of a manly king, dainty queen and persnickety prince/princess is not exactly easy to come by. This one succeeds in full purple regalia.
Sunchokes are underground tubers that form the base of our starch. They are underground in more ways than one, if you catch my drift. You won’t typically see them at the supermarket, instead you’ll have to journey to the farmer’s market. They grow underground and are otherwise known as Jerusalem artichokes, a name that is completely nonsensical. This name came about because English speakers had a hard time pronouncing girasole, which means sunflower in Italian, and is how Italians refer to these electrifying tubers. They are full of zingy flavor, so dumplings from them are perhaps a stretch of the imagination, but an elegant one at that.
It is springtime and for many of us across the Northern Hemisphere that means the return of asparagus in all its splendor (morning after not withstanding). I can think of no better way to appreciate the muskiness of asparagus than to pair it with smoky bacon and rich heavy cream. I did just that with this puree, which gets smoky flavor from the bacon matchsticks that get fried first then removed to a towel-lined plate. The bacon fat acts as the base in which everything else gets cooked, thereby rooting the soup in its rich, outstanding essence. The cream and bacon matchsticks are icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned, but the good, buttercream kind, not the nasty fondant crap.
I’ll share with you the recipe for the asparagus puree. The sunchoke gnocchi is more of a cook by feel rather than by rote kind of a thing, but if you’re desperate for that recipe as well, I can probably give you some estimation if you shoot over a comment or an email.
- 1 bunch asparagus, tips reserved for another use
- 4 oz bacon cut into matchsticks
- 1 large spring onion, roughly chopped
- Garlic powder to taste.
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh Savory
- ½ tbsb chopped fresh Thyme
- 1 c chicken stock
- 1 c heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the bacon matchsticks in a 12” nonstick skillet. Remove to a towel-lined plate and reserve.
Add the asparagus & onion to the skillet and fry for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic powder (I use garlic powder that I smoke and make myself), savory, thyme and chicken stock, lid the frying pan, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
Add the cream, salt and pepper, heat just to the boiling point, and puree, either with a wand or in your blender or food processor. Adjust seasonings and enjoy.