Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

Asparagus the Dutch way (Asperges op z’n Hollands)

Ingredients

Serves 4:

  • 2 kg finest white asparagus
  • 20 g salt
  • small new potatoes to taste, scraped
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 thick slices cooked ham (not smoked)
  • 100 g butter
  • grated nutmeg
  • parsley

Early in the last century a priest, who was looking for a way to make money for his poor parishioners from the sandy soil in his parish, brought the white asparagus to the province of Limburg. Nowadays in Limburg as well as in Brabant there is an Asparagus Society which is organising peeling competitions and asparagus feasts. An asparagus museum in Horst explains everything about cultivation. From the middle of May the ‘asparagus road’ N271 in Limburg is dotted with stalls and restaurants specialising in asparagus. A solemn mass is celebrated in St Jan’s Cathedral in ‘s Hertogenbosch on June 24 to bid the vegetable farewell: Houdoe asperge!

  • Put the asparagus in cold water and refresh it regularly. In a few hours time the stalks will absorb so much liquid that they will become juicy and can be peeled easily.
  • Rinse under cold water. Cut about 1 cm from the bottom. Peel carefully with a potato peeler from top to bottom. Put peels and ends in a pan, cover with a tea-towel. Lay the asparagus on the towel and fold in, cover with cold water. Add salt. Close pan. Bring the water to the boil, lower the flame and poach asparagus for 10 minutes. Take pan from stove. Let stand 15 -15 minutes. Prick with fork in ends: they should be soft but not mushy.
  • In the meantime boil potatoes for 20 minutes. Drain, keep warm.
  • Boil eggs for 10 minutes. Peel and halve.
  • Melt butter. Serve in sauce boat.
  • Take asparagus with skimmer from pan. Let drain on a towel and serve on plates garnished with ham, halved hard boiled eggs and warm potatoes sprinkled with some nutmeg. Garnish with chopped parsley.

 

Wine: Most wine lovers do not know about it, but in our northerly country you find several vineyards. The largest and most famous is the yard of the family Hulst at the steep Louwberg near Maastricht. It is called De Apostelhoeve (Farm of the Apostles), which is also the name of the wine, which was awarded many prizes at international tastings. Under this label four beautiful white wines are offered, which can compete with the Rhine and Alsace wines from which they are derived: the posh Müller Thurgau, the piquant Auxerrois, the supple Riesling and the Pinot Gris for lingering at the table. My personal choice with Dutch asparagus is the Riesling.

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