Here it comes. Straight to ya. A traditional Dutch recipe. Yup, you heard me. The recipe was even written in Dutch. Good thing Arne’s Mom was here to oversee the whole thing. She is of course a pureblood (of the Dutch variety) and she gave the thumbs up to the recipe and helped to decipher it. (Pureblood is Arne’s word for being awesomely and totally Dutch – just so you know).
Me, being a mixblood of the Canadian variety, have only rarely seen the illusive white asparagus. It only shows up in grocery stores for a limited time and is usually very highly priced. I know you may gasp at the mention that I have never tried white asparagus, but alas it is true. I have often shrugged off the idea of using it in a recipe. It’s just the same as green, only grown without sunlight. (insert eye-roll) I’m sure it tastes the same. Who wants a colourless vegetable gracing the plate? Excuses abound.
Here, in the Netherlands, the white asparagus can be found anywhere. High-end grocer, budget grocer, markets, street vendors. It was finally time to try it. And when they hand out traditional recipes with the purchase, well, then it’s time to try that out too.
Well, I must say that it hit the mark. White asparagus has a sweeter and more delicate flavour. I would recommend it to those of you who don’t like the green variety because of the bitterness. It went extremely well with the sauce. Each bite had crunch wrapped in silky cream. Where the look on the plate leaves something to be desired (all cream colour people! I guess I should have sprinkled some chives over it…) the taste makes up for it. It does feel like a down-to-earth meal. Something an Oma would cook up. I can check white asparagus off my list. Now starts the search for these ramps everyone is talking about….
White Asparagus with Ham and Cream Sauce (don’t know who it is by, someone recycled the paper…)
I box chicken or vegetable stock
About 16 stalks of white asparagus (4 per person)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
250 ml heavy cream
100 g ham (deli or preferably the real deal)
4 eggs (1 for each person)
salt and pepper
Bring the stock to a boil and drop in the asparagus until they are tender but not limp! Remove and reserve the stock.
Put the eggs on to boil. I like them fully cooked, but if you like ’em runny do as you please. The eggs could also be poached or fried depending on your preference.
In a skillet, melt the butter and then whisk in the flour. Stir for about 1 minute. You want to make sure the flour gets cooked/absorbed by the butter or the sauce will taste like flour. This is a roux. Then pour some of the reserved stock. Don’t pour it all in or you will have 4 cups of sauce! I would say pour in less than half – remember the cream is still to come. Whisk to make it smooth. Stir and let thicken. Add the container of cream. Whisk and let it thicken more. Add the chopped ham and salt and pepper to taste.
For presentation, lay the asparagus across the plate. Cover in sauce and place the egg on top. You could also cut the egg into the sauce, but I thought this added a special touch. Sprinkle with chives (this will help the colour aspect!). Serve with roasted potatoes because that’s what they do here.