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A Recipe from Our Cookbook: Asparagus with Buerre Blanc, Serrano Ham, and Parmesan

June 1, 2010

Asparagus at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market.

Here’s a fabulous recipe to serve to your guests in celebration of spring (and approaching summer). It’s a touch fancy and absolutely delicious, just like all the recipes in Welcome to Michael’s.

White and Green Asparagus with Beurre Blanc, Serrano Ham, and Parmesan

Serves 4

  • 8 spears white asparagus
  • 8 spears green asparagus
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 thin slices Serrano ham
  • Large chunk Parmesan for grating
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Using a swivel peeler and starting just below the tip, carefully peel the outer skin from each asparagus spear. Peel a little more from the middle to the cut stem end to remove any toughness. There should be no evident peel left. Cut about 1 inch (or more, as necessary) from the tough end of each spear. Because they are so expensive, work slowly and carefully to avoid breaking the spears. As you peel, rinse each spear under cold running water and place on a double layer of paper towels to drain. Set aside.

To make the beurre blanc, combine the wine, vinegar, and shallot in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue boiling for about 1o minutes or until all of the liquid has evaporated but the shallots remain moist, taking care that the mixture does not burn. Stir in the cream and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and, whisking constantly, begin adding the butter, a piece at a time. When all the butter has been incorporated, whisk in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Place a large, shallow saucepan of cold water over high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a good helping of salt and bring to a boil. Place the asparagus in the pan and cook for about 10 minutes or until the spears are tender and almost translucent. Check the degree of doneness constantly by poking the thickest part with the point of a small knife. Do not overcook; a bit of crunchiness is good.

Remove from the heat and, using tongs, carefully transfer the asparagus to a double layer of paper towels to drain.

Place 2 spears of each type of asparagus down the center of each of 4 luncheon plates. Spoon an equal portion of beurre blanc over the asparagus. Lay 2 slices of ham over each pair of asparagus spears. Using a cheese grater, grate a generous helping of Parmesan over the top. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

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