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Cedar Wrapped Asparagus Bundles With Saffron

 

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Cedar Wrapped Asparagus Bundles With Saffron.

Yield: 6

Brine Ingredients:

4 cups cold water

2 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped

1 whole lemon

1 tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon saffron (optional) It can be expensive, and avoid the Mexican saffron, which does not have the same flavor, but if do use the Mexican variety, double the amount

1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce (if desired, may substitute another hot sauce)

2 tablespoons sugar

Brine Method:

• Zest* the lemon then cut in half and juice the same lemon. Mix zest and juice together and reserve for later (add to the brine after it cools). In a sauce pan, combine water, garlic, salt, saffron, Sriracha, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat.

• Remove from heat and cool to 41 degrees (refrigerator temperature). Add lemon zest and juice to mixture. The brine is complete.

• Soak the cedar paper in enough water to cover conpletely.

Cedar Paper Ingredients

6 sheets - 5 1/2 inches by 7 inches

Water for soaking any amount to cover, see note below**

Butchers twine 6 - 8 inch long pieces

Vegetable Bundle Ingredients

24 large asparagus Large

1 red pepper, cut into 12 - 4 to 5 inch long strips

1/2 ounce fresh thyme, 3 inch pieces

1 tablespoon seasoning salt (preference is Johnnies, but Lawrys is also good to use)

Vegetable Bundle Method

Trim asparagus*** into 4-5 inch lengths, keeping them even.

Cut red bell pepper in half and remove the core with a paring knife, scraping away most of the white part from the pepper ribs. Cut the pepper halves into 1/2 inch wide strips by 4 to 5 inches long (with no curled ends). If there is a small amount of red pepper left, reserve for other preparations. Cut the thyme sprigs into 3 inch long pieces.

Lay out the soaked cedar paper with the grain laying horizontal (the paper will only bend one direction without breaking). Place 4 asparagus pieces, 2 pepper strips and 2 sprigs of thyme on each paper with the tips of the asparagus sticking out. The thyme does not need to hang out. Cut the cedar paper with the grain to make them the appropriate size so the veggies can be seen. About 1.5 – 2 inches of the veggies should be outside of the rolled paper. Tightly roll each bundle and secure them tightly with the butchers twine. Tap them on the bottom to line them up. Place in the finished Brine and soak for 4-6 hours.

Drain the bundles and cook on a hot grill for about 10-15 minutes or until the outside is marked (the steam will cook the asparagus). Remove from heat and stand bundles up. Sprinkle with seasoning salt. If desired, the twine may be cut and removed at this point, as the cedar paper will hold its shape, but the veggies may slip, so it's prefer to leave it on.

Chef Hacks

*Note: To zest a lemon there are many different methods. A tool called a zester pulled across the lemon to remove just the yellow strips is best. A plainer zester will also work well and it works like a cheese grater, but finer, and are available at kitchens shops. If you don't have either, you can use the smallest cheese grater option on a cheese grater. Be sure to just grate/zest the surface of the rind only and no deeper, as the white part called the pith is bitter.

**Note: Cedar paper can be found in several gourmet specialty shops, but it's most easily found online by searching for cedar paper. The sizes are usually 6 by 8 inches long. This same paper can also be used to wrap salmon to make grilled cedar salmon, No brine is needed when cooking salmon, just some herbs and spices or a favorite glaze between the salmon and paper. Get creative and you can make a very tasty entree.

***Note: To easily know where to remove the lower portion of the asparagus, simply take one spear, hold in both hands at each end and snap in half. When using a knife, a good place to cut is where it breaks. This should leave 4-5" long pieces. To cut evenly, gently hold them in a bunch and lightly line up the tips on a counter or by letting their weight make them all touch the counter. Lay sideways and cut the spears so they are all the same length.

 

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