And so once again it’s asparagus season. That’s very much a good thing as far as I’m concerned, being a Worcestershire lad. For a few fleeting months, we can get these quality shoots before we’re back to the pencil thick imports from God knows where. I try and avoid these.
They’re brilliantly adaptable, whether steamed, grilled, roasted, thinly sliced in a salad etc etc. Best of all it’s very good for you, being packed with antioxidants and vitamins B & K apparently.
The only downside of course, and I know I putting myself out there, but I’m one of those people with the apparent genetic predisposition to notice the, err, after-affects. I’ll say no more it’s a food blog after all
Of course asparagus is classically paired with egg and/or hollandaise, and this recipe isn’t a million miles away in terms of ingredients.
The Parmesan custard, though prepared differently, is based on a starter I used to like in an Italian recipe. That was thick like crème pâtissière, but this has been prepared thinner, more like a crème anglaise. Or custard as we call it here. I finished it off with some anchovy infused croutons.
The asparagus was prepared my favourite way – chargrilled. But then I prefer most things chargrilled.
Massive umami flavours result of course and although this would make a nice lunch or starter by itself, I added some roast chicken and a little side salad to make it a bit more substantial for dinner.
For the asparagus
- 8 lovely large, fresh asparagus spears!
- 1 lug of garlic oil
- Salt and pepper
For the parmesan custard
- 350ml whole milk – cold or room temperature (if you have time – infused with 1 tbsp black peppers and 1 bay leaf – cooled)
- 4 tbsp grated Parmesan
- 2 egg yolks (room temp)
- Salt to taste
For the anchovy croutons
- 1 large or 2 small slices of stale bread – cubed
- 3-4 anchovy filets
- 3 tbsp olive oil
You don’t have to do this , skip to the end if you prefer! Start with the milk. Heat it in a pan to a simmer with the bay leaf and peppercorns to infuse the flavour. Take off the heat, strain and leave to cool in a bowl.
For the asparagus: drizzle and roll in the garlic oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
Get an iron griddle screaming hot and char them all over until cooked. Press them and they’ll give a little when done, but not overdone.
Remove and keep warm.
At the same time, heat the oil in a smallish pan and fry the anchovy fillet until they dissolve into the oil. Fry the bread in the delicious oil until brown and crispy. Take off the heat and keep warm
Finally, do the parmesan custard – it needs your attention so do it last. Pour the milk (infused or not) into the a cold milk pan and add the egg yolks and Parmesan. Whisk thoroughly. On your smallest hob, heat gently stirring continuously until it’s thickened. When stirring, make sure you get into the edges of the pan or it’ll curdle the egg – I use a silicon spatular. Reduce until it becomes a nice thick sauce. Taste and season.
Serve the Parmesan custard over the asparagus with the croutons on top and with the roasted chicken/side salad if you like.