Asparagus with Watercress and Brown Butter Potatoes

© Michael Turek

Asparagus with Watercress and Brown Butter Potatoes

  • ACTIVE: 30 MIN

In Austria, restaurants often devote entire menus to white and green asparagus (known as spargel) when spring finally arrives. Here, asparagus is fried until crisp.


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  1. 1 pound large fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins

  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  3. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

  4. Salt and freshly ground pepper

  5. 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

  6. 1 1/2 pounds medium asparagus

  7. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  8. 3 large eggs, beaten

  9. 2 cups canola oil, for frying

  10. 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  11. 1 small shallot, minced

  12. 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste

  13. 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  14. 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  15. 1/2 cup chopped chervil or tarragon

  16. 1/2 cup snipped chives

  17. 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

  18. 3 large hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped

  19. 1 bunch watercress, thick stems discarded

  1. Preheat the oven to 225°. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil over high heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Pass the potatoes through a ricer into a bowl.
  2. In the same saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until browned and nutty, about 4 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Keep the potato puree warm over low heat.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the panko until fine. Dust all but the asparagus tips with the flour. In a pie plate, beat the eggs. In another pie plate, add the panko and season with salt and pepper. Dip the floured part of the asparagus in the egg, then dredge in the panko.
  4. In a deep skillet, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Fry the asparagus in batches over moderately high heat, turning, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Keep the asparagus warm in the oven.
  5. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Scrape the shallot into a bowl. Whisk in the tomato paste and vinegar, then whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the herbs and chopped eggs to the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Add the watercress and toss to coat.
  6. Spoon the potato puree onto plates. Top with the asparagus and salad and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Citrusy Austrian white blend.