Gratin of white asparagus

Gratin of white asparagus

By
From
My Favourite Ingredients
Serves
4
Photographer
Jason Lowe

This rich, creamy gratin of beautiful white asparagus wrapped in a cosy blanket is delicious paired with a simple roast chicken. A leafy green salad – tossed with a dressing that has a note of acidity – is the only other accompaniment you need. Alternatively, you can serve this gratin as it is, with some warm bread to mop up the sauce and, perhaps, some finely sliced porcini mushrooms on the side, dressed with no more than beautiful olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
60g unsalted butter, melted
15 white asparagus
small bunch lemon thyme, leaves only
200ml creme fraiche
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs, (60g)
80g parmesan, finely grated
2 tablespoons finely chopped curly parsley

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Brush a copper or ceramic gratin dish with a little of the melted butter.
  2. Trim the asparagus: you will find that white asparagus needs to be trimmed much higher – roughly halfway up the stalks, as a rule of thumb. Slice the spears in half lengthways and lay them in the buttered gratin dish. Sprinkle with most of the lemon thyme leaves, saving a few for garnish.
  3. Now put the crème fraîche and mustard into a heavy-based saucepan and place over a medium heat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down slightly and let bubble to reduce by about a quarter. Season the reduced mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, put the breadcrumbs in a bowl, add the Parmesan, parsley and some pepper, and toss with your fingers to combine.
  5. Pour the mustardy crème fraîche over the asparagus, then scatter the crumb mixture on top, distributing it evenly. Drizzle over the rest of the melted butter. Bake the gratin on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes. The top should be crisp and golden and the cream should be bubbling up around the sides of the dish. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves and serve.
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