These Parma ham-wrapped asparagus spears make an elegant starter but can also add magic to a larger festive spread as a side dish – especially when served with a crisp glass of Signature Chenin Blanc.
For the hollandaise sauce: (serves 4 as a starter)
• 3 extra-large egg yolks
• 30ml (2 tablespoons) lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
• pinch of salt
• 150g butter, cubed
For the asparagus:
• About 16-24 asparagus spears (not too thin)
• 16-24 slices Parma ham, very thinly sliced (roughly 120-150 g)
• 15-30ml (1-2 tablespoons) olive oil
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) almond flakes, toasted in a dry pan
• A handful micro herbs, for serving (optional)
Make the hollandaise first, because then it will be ready when the asparagus is fried: place a small pot filled with 5cm water on the stove and heat to a slow simmer. In a slightly wider heat-proof bowl (glass or stainless steel), add the yolks, lemon juice and salt. Place the bowl over the simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the mixing bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water. Start whisking the egg mixture immediately, whisking steadily as the mixture heats up. When the mixture starts to thicken (after about 3 to 5 minutes), add a few blocks of butter and keep on whisking as it melts into the mixture. Keep on adding more butter until all the butter is melted and incorporated, and you are left with a thickened custard-like sauce. If, at any stage, your mixture becomes too thick or looks like it wants to split, remove it from the heat and add more cold butter to bring the temperature down, then continue as above. Remove from the heat when ready and set aside until ready to use. (Add a tablespoon of boiling water to the mixture to bring it back to pouring consistency just before serving, if necessary.)
For the asparagus: wrap each asparagus spear with a thin sliver of Parma ham. Heat the olive oil in a wide non-stick pan, then fry for just a few minutes until the ham is golden, turning it over. Transfer to a serving platter, then top with hollandaise, toasted almonds and micro herbs. Serve at once.
About the wine: Signature Chenin Blanc
This Chenin is both crisp and fruity with green guava, pear, apple and hints of litchi on the nose. A well-balanced palate and a strong finish. Maturation occurred on the fine lees for another three months to give extra body and elegance. The wine is not oaked.