Wednesday, 5 September 2012

033 - Asparagus and Parma Ham

A year in to this project, and I’m roughly a third through :-)

Number 33 in the list of 100 things to BBQ is a side dish that I’ve turned to a few times throughout the summer… Asparagus with Parma Ham.

Asparagus is very seasonal, and at its absolute best during the summer. Simply grilling it with a little olive oil over medium heat brings out its unique flavour, and in my opinion, doesn’t need to be over-worked. The recipe I use, from Weber’s Complete BBQ, uses a quick and simple vinaigrette along with parma ham to complement its subtle, fresh taste.

The vinaigrette contains lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, finely chopped shallots with a little seasoning and can be made way in advance and stored in the fridge ready for when you need it.

The asparagus itself doesn’t need much prep. Just wash gently in cold water, and then snap off the woody bases from the stalks. Most of the vinaigrette is poured over the asparagus directly before grilling, but keep some back to be used before serving.

I tend to use a medium direct heat to cook asparagus. Hot enough to cook it quickly, but not so hot that it dries out the delicate tips before the thicker stalks are cooked all of the way through.

The parma ham can be added to the grill at this point to. Make sure that your grill is nice and clean otherwise you risk it sticking to them. It’s very thin – so if it sticks, it’s going to tear. It really doesn’t need much cooking time on the grill because it is so thin – just a minute or so on either side. Then remove from the grill and leave to continue to crisp up and cool down.

Once the asparagus is cooked, move them to a serving platter and pour over the remaining vinaigrette. Then, tear and crunch the parma ham into smallish flakes and sprinkle over the top. Voila!

I’ve served this with pork loin, prime rib and more recently tuna steaks. But I think it’s a great accompaniment to most summer BBQs.


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