Make the most of the short but oh-so-sweet British asparagus season with this mouth-watering recipe that makes a lovely starter or side dish – it’s also wonderful as a meal with crusty bread to mop up all the sauce. The asparagus is lightly steamed so it keeps some bite and is then covered in a white sauce bursting with the flavours of Comté, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
- Preheat oven to 200°C normal / 180℃ fan and rub the inside of a shallow ovenproof dish with unsalted butter.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to boil and blanch the asparagus for one minute, then drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Once the asparagus are cold, drain and place in the ovenproof dish.
- In a small pan on a medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Return to the heat, stir and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of custard.
- Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolk, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour most of the sauce over the asparagus.
- Top with the Comté and place the dish in the oven for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, turn the grill on high (if the grill is separate to the oven – if using a combined oven/grill, heat up the grill after removing the dish from the oven). After 8 minutes, transfer the dish from the oven to the grill to cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
Recipe © Laura Pope