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Ahead of class, Lee brothers share recipe for asparagus and grapefruit

Addie Broyles

Matt and Ted Lee, brothers and hosts of the Cooking Channel’s “Unique Eats” and authors of “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen” ($35, Clarkson Potter), will teach a cooking class ($80) at Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. This surprising combination of asparagus and grapefruit is one of the dishes from the new book that they’ll be teaching in the class.

To introduce this recipe, they write: “In the Charleston vegetable pantheon, asparagus typically takes a back seat to the collards, shelled peas, and squashes, but it shouldn’t. In the 1880s, a settlement of French immigrants in Mount Pleasant, just across the Cooper River from Charleston, established a commercial asparagus farm whose harvest became in short order the priciest, most sought-after asparagus available in the urban markets of the North. This recipe will make your asparagus shine wherever it hails from. We simply char the asparagus to smoky lusciousness in a large skillet, then strew grapefruit segments over it with a vinaigrette made with the sweet-and-sour juice left over from segmenting the fruit.”

Skillet Asparagus with Grapefruit

1 grapefruit, preferably a ruby variety

Kosher salt

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil, plus more if necessary

1 lb. medium asparagus, trimmed of any woody ends

Freshly ground black pepper

With a zester or Microplane grater, scrape some grapefruit zest from the skin of the fruit for garnish, and reserve. Segment the grapefruit: trim off the bottom and top of the fruit with a knife so that you have a flat surface upon which to rest it as you peel it. Peel the fruit by placing the tip of a sharp knife just inside the border where the pith meets the pulp, and slicing down with firm, clean strokes following the curvature of the fruit. Repeat until the entire fruit has been peeled. Then, over a bowl or wide board to catch all of the juice, gently cut the segments of pulp with a sharp knife by slicing toward the core as close as possible to the membranes that separate the segments. Once you’ve extracted all the citrus segments, squeeze the membranes to release any remaining juice and then discard the membranes. Gently strain the segments, reserving segments and juice in separate bowls. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, the vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water, and the mustard to the bowl with the grapefruit juice and whisk to combine. Pour in the olive oil, whisking to emulsify.

Pour the canola oil into a large skillet over high heat, and when it smokes, add half of the asparagus and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cover. Cook, partly covered, until the asparagus is blackened on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the asparagus in the pan, cover, and cook until the asparagus is thoroughly blackened, 3 minutes more; transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining asparagus, adding another teaspoon of oil to the pan (if it’s become too dry) and seasoning with salt.

When all the asparagus is on the platter, scatter the grapefruit segments evenly over the asparagus. If the dressing has broken, whisk to re-emulsify, pour it over the asparagus, and grind some black pepper over the top. Garnish the platter with the reserved zest, and serve. Serves 4.

— From “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen ($35, Clarkson Potter) by Ted and Matt Lee