Asparagus on Toast with Cream Sauce

SERVES 4

We tasted this signature dish while visiting the Smiarowski Farmstand and Creamy in Sunderland, Massachusetts.

Salt
2 lbs. asparagus
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 1⁄2 cups hot Chicken Stock
1⁄2 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 slices white bread, lightly toasted and cut in half on
the diagonal

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prepare asparagus by holding bottom half of each spear with both hands and gently bending it until it snaps where it naturally breaks, separating tough fibrous end from tender part (see Prepping Asparagus). Discard ends. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a medium-heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in hot stock and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened, 3-5 minutes. Add cheese, stirring until melted, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Reduce heat to low to keep sauce warm, stirring often to keep a skin from forming.

3. Add asparagus to pot of boiling water and cook until soft, 4-8 minutes. Drain well.

4. Divide asparagus among four plates. Spoon half the sauce over asparagus, arrange 2 pieces of toast on top of each, then spoon remaining sauce over toast.