From Europe to New York to Melba Idaho (population 537). Recipe is shared by Mary-Mac DeGroot She is a ballerina turned chef, married to dairy farmer. Chef Mary-Mac was living in New York City working as a chef when she was introduced to Ernest DeGroot, dairy farmer from Idaho. The short of the story, they fell in love, got married and she now lives on a dairy farm. It's no surprise Chef Mary-Mac fell for a dairy farmer. All good chefs know and respect the great flavor and value of dairy in recipes.
Clean onion and remove the root ends; set aside. Peel and thinly slice garlic cloves; set aside. Julienne slice prosciutto, or cut in thin matchsticks; set aside. Fill a large pan or bowl with ice and water; set aside. Wash and trim asparagus.
Place 5-cups water in a 4-qt saucepan, salt (until it tastes like the ocean); bring to a boil. Drop asparagus into boiling water, and cook until tender (about 2-4 minutes, depending on size of asparagus). Remove asparagus from boiling water and drop into ice water to shock, immediately cool and stop cooking (helps asparagus remain vibrant green in color. When cool, remove from ice water and set aside.
Place chicken stock, milk and cream into 4-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat (don’t boil over). Whisking constantly, slowly pour polenta in a thin stream into boiling milk until it is well incorporated and mixture comes back to a boil. Reduce heat to low/simmer, add ½-teaspoon salt; remove whisk and stir with a wooden spoon, frequently, until polenta is thick and you can no longer taste the grittiness, about 30 minutes for regular polenta. Note: mixture may pop. It’s helpful to place a lid askew on the pan to prevent popping and burning the person stirring. If polenta becomes too thick it may be thinned by stirring in additional milk or stock. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper; fold in mascarpone cheese; cover and keep warm while preparing asparagus topping.
In large skillet melt 4-tablespoons butter over medium heat until butter foams. Add spring onion, garlic and prosciutto; saute until onions are wilted and slightly caramelized. Add asparagus, lemon juice and zest, let sizzle. Add remaining 2-tablespoons butter, shake pan to emulsify; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place polenta in serving dish, top with asparagus and spring onions; serve immediately.
* Spring onion is a new or young onion, harvested before the bulb forms. Spring onions are milder in taste than green onions or scallions. May substitute green onions in the recipe.
** Polenta will clump and become lumpy if not whisked briskly while it is added to hot liquid. It must be stirred while thickening. Regular polenta takes about 30 minutes to cook. You may substitute quick cooking polenta for faster cooking and less stirring (about 5 minutes).