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Asparagus in Parchment is Everyday Magic

Asparagus in Parchment

I have a recipe today that is both simple and sophisticated. Asparagus in Parchment with Béchamel, Prosciutto and Swiss Cheese.

Imagine tender stalks that are supple from tip to stem without getting mushy or floppy, because they retain their crisp bite. These spears are made rich and sophisticated with a swipe of béchamel, a bit of Swiss cheese and the very porky undertones of prosciutto.

Sounds delicious, but you’re already a good cook. Do you really need to learn to cook asparagus in parchment? You’ve already mastered a million ways to cook asparagus. Steaming is classic. Boiling will get the job done. Roasting is delicious. Pan frying is super easy and grilling will rock your world. So do you really need to learn another way to cook asparagus?

Yes you do, because you’re a cook and you should always be cooking. Which means you should always be learning, because cooking is learning by doing. You can learn by doing more, but sometimes the best lessons are learned by doing less.

“Simplicity” Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “is the ultimate sophistication.”

Asparagus in Parchment

I like to cook asparagus in parchment. Not just because, as Da Vinci notes, it’s simple, and not just because pretty. Cooking asparagus in parchment means there aren’t any pots and pans to clean up afterwards, but that’s not the reason I like to cook asparagus in parchment.

I like to cook asparagus in parchment because it’s magical.

Which is saying a lot because I believe in everyday kitchen magic. Fresh basil from my garden is magical. It’s quietly green when I pluck it from the plant. But it becomes loud and aurally psychedelic under my knife. That’s magic.

Asparagus in Parchment. Yes, that’s magic too. You’ll just have to wrap up a few spears for yourself and see what I mean. As I said, we cooks should always be cooking. It’s how we discover the everyday magic that keeps us cooking. GREG

Asparagus in Parchment

Asparagus and Béchamel in Parchment

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2–4Published

This recipe can be doubled or tripled (or more). However make the aspaargus in multiple packets, each containing no more than 12 spears of asparagus.

Asparagus in Parchment

Ingredients

  • 12 spears medium or thick asparagus (trimmed)
  • 4 slice prosciutto (cut in half lengthwise)
  • 4 slice (2x4-inch) slices Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter (cut into cubes, divided)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1 pinch grated nutmeg
  • fine salt and white pepper (to taste)

Directions

Place the oven rack in the center position then heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare an ice bath.

Steam asparagus in a steamer set over boiling water, covered, until tender crisp, 3 to 5 minutes depending on thickness. Gently move the asparagus to ice bath to stop the cooking; drain and pat dry.

Lay a piece of parchment approximately 15x18-inches onto a rimmed baking sheet , then fold it in half along the 18-inch length. Open it up like a book, centering the right side of the folded area in the center of the baking sheet.

Place four of the halved prosciutto slices onto the parchment, centered between the fold and the right edge. Lay two slices of Swiss cheese on top of the prosciutto, followed by the asparagus spears in a bundle. Top asparagus with remaining slices of prosciutto and Swiss cheese; set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Once the butter begins to get foamy whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly until smooth, about 1 minute. Drizzle in the milk, whisking constantly, until the mixture is fully incorporated. Cook, whisking often, until the mixture is thickened and just becoming elastic, about 3 minutes. Add the Parmesan and nutmeg and cook, whisking constantly, about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and season with salt and white pepper.

Spoon the warm béchamel over the center of the asparagus bundle, then snuggle the remaining cubes of butter amongst the asparagus. Fold the parchment over the bundle, crimping and folding on three open sides to form a sealed packet. Transfer the packet on its baking sheet to the heated oven. Bake until heated through, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness of asparagus.

To serve transfer the sealed packet to a serving platter. Cut the packet open at the table and divide contents between diners.