This recipe is featured in our Spring 2017 Food + Entertaining article, Season’s Bounty.
Peachy hit the “foodie town” of Birmingham for a culinary tour with renowned Southern chefs Frank Stitt and John Lasater and came away with a few must-try recipes for your spring entertaining. Take advantage of all the fresh ingredients available this time of year for your next special meal. Whether you are hosting a brunch, lunch or dinner party, these seasonal Southern recipes featuring Mother Nature’s bounty can be adapted for many menus. The fresh ingredients with a Southern twist are sure to be a hit as you welcome the spring season.
Asparagus with Farm Eggs and Ham HockCourse: Salads
4servings as an appetizer
2 meaty smoked ham hocks
3 thyme sprigs, 3 at-leaf parsley sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied together to make a bouquet garni
2 small spring onions, quartered
Tiny pinch of sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1⁄2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 small creamer potatoes (tiny new potatoes)
16 jumbo asparagus spears, tough ends cut away and bottom half peeled
4 large hard-boiled eggs, organic or “free-range,” peeled and quartered
1 heaping cup young lettuces, such as baby arugula or watercress, trimmed, washed and dried
1⁄4 cup Three-Vinegar Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- For the Three-Vinegar Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
1 1⁄2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
1⁄4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Put the ham hocks in a deep medium saucepan and add water to cover by 3 to 4 inches. Add the bouquet garni, bring to a simmer, and cook slowly until the meat is tender, 2 to 3 hours, adding water if necessary to keep the hocks well covered. Remove from the heat and let cool in the broth. Remove the ham hocks and pick the meat from the bones; set aside. Reserve the broth for another purpose, if desired.
- Place the onions in a small saucepan just large enough to hold them in a single layer and season with the sugar, salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil (or ham fat) and bring to a simmer. Cook until the onions are just tender and slightly glazed, about 10 minutes. Set the pan aside. Prepare a hot grill. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size. Drain, return to the hot pan, and cover to keep warm. While the potatoes cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and blot dry on a kitchen towel.
- Spread the asparagus on a platter and drizzle with the remaining 11⁄2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the spears on the hot grill, turning to char on all sides, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the onions over low heat. Transfer the asparagus to serving plates and arrange the hard boiled egg wedges, potatoes, onions and lettuces attractively around them. Add the ham hock meat to the vinaigrette, and drizzle it over everything.
- To prepare vinaigrette:
- Combine the shallots, vinegars, garlic, mustard, herbs, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Let macerate for 10 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the olive oil until incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Recipe by Chef Frank Stitt, excerpted from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill