Canadian chef Devan Cameron has been cooking since he was a teenager and has worked in kitchens in Canada, Italy and France. He now lives in Maastricht and writes about recipes you can make at home.
During the months of April to June, white asparagus is exploding in the markets here in Maastricht, so it’s important to have a good white asparagus recipe. Nicknamed ‘white gold’, the asparagus has a slightly sweeter taste and is less bitter than its green cousin making these highly prized possessions.
In Maastricht, there’s a very simple tradition of serving blanched white asparagus with rolled ham, butter, hard-boiled eggs and boiled potatoes which is the BEST way to eat them (IMO). In this recipe I brown the butter because the extra nuttiness and sweetness is something I love so much.
White asparagus is green asparagus plants that are constantly covered with soil to prevent chlorophyll from forming, thus keeping them white. This process of constantly moving the soil up the sides of the plant is labour-intensive and is reflected in the high price. It’s also a very healthy vegetable containing lots of vitamin C, folic acid and antioxidants.
Unlike green asparagus, white asparagus must be peeled because the skin is very tough. If you plan to make white asparagus soup, save the woody bottoms and peels to infuse into your stock.
- Make sure to peel the asparagus in long strips from top to bottom in one motion; peeling the other way can make them taste bitter.
- Look for fat stalks that are juicy when peeled.
- Save the peel and woody bits for an asparagus soup
- Fresh asparagus will cook very fast and older asparagus will take longer
White Asparagus – A Dutch Ritual
A pot that the asparagus will cook in horizontally.
4-6 slices ham rolled
2 whole eggs hard-boiled
100 g butter browned
400 g white asparagus
2-3 medium potatoes peeled
sea salt and pepper
3 bay leaves
1 piece garlic peeled
2 tbsp butter for the cooking of the asparagus
1 tbsp sugar
First peel the potatoes and cut into large pieces. Top with cold water, add 1 bay leaf and the peeled garlic. Season generously and bring to a boil. Cook until nicely tender about 10-15 minutes on a simmer. Once cooked, strain, season with salt and pepper and keep warm until the rest of the meal is ready.
Peel the white asparagus from top to bottom. Make sure to really take off all the skin as it is super chewy. Once they are peeled, remove about 3 cm off the bottom with a knife (this part is also chewy).
Get a pan with high sides and fill with water (just enough to cover the asparagus completely). Season the water well with salt, add a squeeze of lemon juice, sugar, bay leaf and a knob of butter (roughly 1 tbsp). Bring to a boil and then add the white asparagus. Simmer just under a boil, until soft when poked with a knife. Approx 8-15 minutes.
When the asparagus is cooked, let it cool slightly in the cooking liquid. Bring a small pot of water to a boil for the eggs. Add the eggs to the boiling water and set the timer for 10 minutes.
While this is cooking start browning the butter in a small pan (swirling constantly) until you see little brown bits on the bottom and it smells amazing. Keep warm.
When the egg timer goes off, run them under cold water to cool. Peel the eggs and mash up with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Roll the ham into roll and set aside on a plate.
Once the asparagus is cooled slightly set on a plate with paper towels to dry. Get a sauté pan hot and add a knob of butter (roughly 1 tbsp) and sauté the asparagus until slightly golden brown. Hit it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper at the end.
Serve the asparagus family style with all the options on the table. Put some asparagus on your plate and then pile on eggs and drizzle generously with warm brown butter. Enjoy and smakelijk eten!
This post originally appeared on Canuck Chef in the Netherlands.
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