Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
2 lbs. fresh fat asparagus
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup creme fraiche
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
Peel: Lay asparagus, one at a time, on a cutting board. Using a vegetable peeler, strip away skin from just below the tip to the bottom. Break off woody bottom. Rinse. Repeat. Consider this project productive meditation.
Simmer: Choose a skillet wide enough to accommodate dozing asparagus. Half fill with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil; add asparagus. Reduce to a simmer. Cook, rolling spears once, until they turn brilliant green at the tips and offer a tender bite, about 4 minutes.
Dry: Use tongs to pull out asparagus. Drain briefly in a colander. Spread out spears on a clean kitchen towel (or two) and roll up, keeping asparagus dry and warm.
Whisk: Measure mustard into a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons of the hot asparagus-cooking water. Whisk in creme fraiche. Season this sauce with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and the chives.
Serve: Heap asparagus on a platter. Either pour on sauce (leaving ruched points and an inch or two of bottom bare), or serve sauce in a bowl alongside, for dipping.
Provenance: Julia Child’s classic sauce moutarde inspired this creme-fraiche variation.