Craven College’s Jamie Fletcher provides another of his favourite recipes. He has more than ten years’ experience working in bars and restaurants, including a 15-month stint as a sous-chef in the south of France.
TRADITIONALLY the official start to the English asparagus season has always been April 23 - St George's Day.
However we've had plenty of opportunity to buy English asparagus since early in the year. Nevertheless the real thing is still best from May onwards and is perhaps one of the best English seasonal foods we have.
English asparagus will be widely available in supermarkets into early summer but for suppliers of local Yorkshire asparagus try Growing with Grace (Clapham) and Keelham Farm (Skipton and Thornton).
And, from this week, Wharfedale Grange Farms near Harewood House will offer superb locally-grown asparagus for as long as the season allows. The quality is excellent and they're well worth a visit.
English growers face competition from South America and other countries with longer growing seasons. These countries can also import to British supermarkets for almost the entire year too. However it’s well worth paying a little extra for English asparagus in season - the flavour is much better than imported asparagus.
This is a small but very rich dinner for two people.
2 bunches of asparagus - about 24 spears in total
12 slices of Parma ham
2 crottin or individual goats’ cheese
2 thick slices sourdough bread, toasted
Trim the woody stem from the asparagus if required (you shouldn't have to do this with new young and tender spears) and twist one slice of ham around two spears. Lay them flat on a baking tray and place in a hot oven for 8 - 10 minutes until the ham is crisp.
At the same time as the asparagus is cooking place the goat’s cheese into the oven to warm through - you want it to be soft and melting but not to have become a puddle. You can wrap the goat’s cheese in foil if you're worried about it oozing away inside your oven. Meanwhile toast two thick slices of sourdough bread.
Once the asparagus spears have started to char and the ham is beginning to crisp, remove everything from the oven. Divide the spears between two plates and place a goat’s cheese on top of each slice of the toast. Dip the asparagus ham-wrapped spears into the warm cheese and mop up any remaining cheese with the toast.