If there is one thing I absolutely do NOT understand about British food culture is the need to eat your asparagus green. I have always preferred the white – fully grown, asparagus by far and I can still smell the soft, earthy smell of the stems cooking before they would be laid out on a dish with heaps of butter and fresh herbs.
My favourite white asparagus recipe, however, must be the gratin of white asparagus with cheese Béchamel.
- 1 big bunch of fresh white asparagus – this will be about 500-600 grams
- 40g of real butter
- 40g of flour
- 350ml milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 80g grated holland cheese
- 80g grated parmesan cheese
- handful of breadcrumbs
- First of all we are going to make a roux by melting the butter on a medium heat and adding the flour.
- Whisk the flour and the butter together and try to make it as dry as possible without burning. This means that the ‘dough’ may not stick to the pan.
- Add the milk while constantly whisking until you have a smooth sauce. Add pepper, a bit of salt, nutmeg and take if of the hob.
- Now add the cheese and stir it through the sauce.
- Now, to prepare the asparagus, we need to trim away the bottom of the stem and peel off the rough part with a vegetable peeler.
- Now fill a medium sized pot with water, add salt and bring to a boil. My grandmother would always add a pinch of lemon to make them extra soft but it depends on how you like your asparagus. Cook for about 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus – they have to be crispy and tender, and drain the pot.
- Now lay the asparagus out in an oven dish and cover them with the béchamel. Top with the breadcrumbs and put in a preheated oven on 180° for about 20 minutes ( until golden ).
Perfect with a piece of venison or with a tough meated fish.