Asparagus is without a doubt the king of all vegetables. In Denmark, the season is only a few weeks in the spring and early summer. In our family we eat them severval times a week, both green and the white. When I lived in the States, I seldom ate asparagus. First, because they were very expensive and because my mother always cooked them to much. In fact, I had never seen a white asparagus before I came to Denmark. I know now why. They grow mostly in the dark (they grow under the Ground) in Northern Europe and in South America. The chefs at the fine resturants in all parts of the world buy all the white asparagus they can get ahold of in the short and intense season which is only 6-7 weeks. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook asparagus shortly after I came to Denmark. After peeling the white aspargus, the green doesn’t need to be peeled, they should be cooked in a large, deep frying pan where they can lay down or a pot where the asparagus can stand up. This way one is sure they have plenty of room and won’t be crowded. White asparagus should be cooked 8-10 minutes in let salted water. The green asparagus needs only 5-6 minutes. Of course, this is depending on how thrick they are. After cooking the asparagus, my mother-in-law would take them up with a special designed spoon and after making sure that most of the water had dripped off of them, placed them on a fine white linen napkin. Of course, we used the best silver to eat them with. Wow! Nobody serves them on napkins nowadays, but it is just to show you how much respect the Danes have for asparagus.
Here are two of my favorite recipes which are good as appetizers.
WHITE ASPARAGUS WITH EGG, PARSLEY AND BUTTER
2 lbs. white asparagus
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3 oz. butter
1-2 oz. bread crumbs
3 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
White asparagus must be peeled from the head down. Cut or break the hard end of asparagus off. Cook them in let salted water 8-10 minutes depending on how thick they are. Take them up and let the water drip off before placing them on 4 plates. Sprinkle chopped hard boiled eggs over the asparagus.
Melt butter and fry bread crumbs until they are lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add parsley. Stir a few times and arrange bread crumbs-parsley on top of the eggs. The heads should be free.
GREEN ASPARAGUS WITH DANISH DRY CURED HAM AND PARMESAN
2 lbs. green asparagus
3 oz. danish dry cured ham or prosciutto
1 oz. freshly grated parmesan
3 ox. butter
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cook asparagus in let salted water 5-6 min. Tag them up and wrap a slice of ham around each piece. Melt butter and drip over asparagus and sprinkle parmesan over. Bake them in the oven 3 minutes.