Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sweet As Pie: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

I was going to make this two weeks ago with Pioneer Woman's Whiskey Rib-eyes.  But my in-laws came up and we decided to cook the steaks on the grill, and then because I wasn't in the middle of the cooking, I completely forgot about the asparagus!

Thank goodness asparagus keeps pretty well in our crisper.

Even so, I knew this weekend that I was running out of time before I'd have to throw it away, and not much makes me as upset as throwing away food we never cooked.

This week I went to the grocery store but didn't like the steaks I saw, so rib eyes were out. But in the meantime, we bought a family-size tray of ground beef, because Mick ordered these

I'd like to attribute these photos but have no idea where I got them. If they belong to you, please say so.
from television and wanted to try them.

But then here it was Sunday afternoon, and we hadn't given any serious thought to the Stufz and I knew I needed to pack away the meat -- and cook that darn asparagus.

I decided it would be a good day for a meatloaf.

I checked our cookbooks and found this recipe from Pioneer Woman, and this one from Trisha.

(Note: I used the recipes from the cookbooks, which sometimes have slight modifications. In Trisha's cookbook, there is no ketchup glaze as shown in the photo in the link.  We did not make a glaze. Also, if you click both links you'll see that they both have the SAME photo. That's a shame, because we've made each of these at some point, and neither one looks like the photo!)

Trisha's just seemed simpler, and Mick and I were in the mood for simple -- or, if not simple, at least easy.  Besides, we've already made the PW recipe, and hadn't yet tried the one from Trisha's cookbook.  But really, it was the simplicity that trumped. This is our last day of winter break and neither of us felt like doing much of anything.  I even snuck in an afternoon nap!

Trisha introduces her recipe by saying she loves meatloaf, has tried quite a few, and really sticks with this simple, delicious version.  She's dead-on.  This is one of the easiest things you'll ever make and incredibly flavorful.

For our side we had bacon-wrapped asparagus (because anything wrapped in bacon is usually better, except that Mick and I tend to disagree with that because usually the bacon is soggier than we'd prefer).  Oh my goodness.  There is a strong chance we'll have bacon-wrapped asparagus for dinner by itself one night soon.  This was absolutely fantastic.

Naturally, neither CAM nor WHM would take so much as a bite, even though I tried to tell WHM that the sauce was made with his favorite black Chinese sauce (translation: soy sauce!).

Oh well. More for us.

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Bundles

Verdict: Holy awesomeness, Batman. Delicious. Pretty. Perfect if you're having company, or if you're not!
Cook it again: Yes. Tomorrow, if we had more asparagus.
Cost factor:  a bit expensive for a side, depending on sales.  Both bacon and asparagus can be costly if not on sale.

First of all, this is so easy that it's silly.

Trim some asparagus and group it into bundles.  Based on how many stalks we had, our bundles were 5-6 stalks.  (Think about how much a single person might eat and make the bundles accordingly -- if you have super skinny or super thick asparagus, that would play a role.)  Did you know you're supposed to hold an asparagus stalk at each end and bend it until it snaps?  Apparently that's the natural break point at which the rest of the stalk is not going to be good.  Mick and I learned that years ago and have used it ever since. But for the sake of pretty little bundles, I actually trimmed the stalks with a knife instead.

Wrap each bundle with bacon and set the bundles in a baking dish.

Trisha says to hold them together with toothpicks, but we didn't find that to be necessary.  Also, my pan is non-stick ceramic, but I don't think the bacon would stick no matter what baker you have, so don't worry about spraying it.

Then in a saucepan, mix a stick of butter, brown sugar, pepper, garlic salt, and soy sauce.

totally used the brownulated stuff again.  It melts a little differently, so I had to stir like crazy!
 When it bubbles to a foam, pour it over your asparagus bundles, and throw it in the oven.

Now, Trisha said to bake it for about 25 minutes at 400.  Since I had the meatloaf in the oven at 350, I put these in for longer, but on the very top rack.  I don't think that had any adverse effect.

Here they are, fresh out of the oven:

And here is our dinner.  Oh my goodness.

For the record, a little of the extra sauce drizzled on the meatloaf was also outstanding, and the bacon did get crispy enough to our taste.

For not wanting to really cook tonight, we ate like kings.  This was one of the best meals in a while!


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