Photo: Chris Wiles Photgraphy
Bacon wrapped asparagus bunches:
Prep: 10 mins.
Cooking: 10 mins.
Course: Starter or side dish
Rating: 3: Moderate
Well, on the surface, quite basically, it’s just asparagus wrapped in bacon – or so it may seem………. but let me just tell you a little story before telling you how to cook it….
As a young but fully qualified (and probably fairly arrogant and know-it-all) Motor Vehicle Technician, back in the early 70’s, I was called to a rather posh broken-down car in a rich Leicestershire village early one morning. The starter motor ‘bendix drive’ had stuck, as they did quite often in those days. All I needed to do to get the car going and let the customer get to work was to smartly clout the starter motor with a copper mallet – a standard trade trick of the time. It usually worked a treat. Instant success. However, on this occasion the owner didn’t want to pay the bill as he said that he had done that before calling me out, and so he’d probably loosened it. My reply was quite considered, (actually very well-rehearsed) and quite succinct.
“It’s not just ‘hitting the starter with a hammer’ that does the trick, Sir. It’s knowing where to strike it, with which implement, in which direction and how hard “.
He begrudgingly paid up. It was a stock answer to a stock situation, even then, he still reported me for being gobby. Well, I suppose I was. Ne’mind!
Yes, you guessed it – I got a rocketing from my Service Manager – and then a knowing wink.
So, likewise, it’s not just wrapping the asparagus in bacon that will ensure your success as a flash git, it’s how you wrap it, what you wrap it around and what you use to wrap it, etc.
And so to the chase……
What you’ll need (as a posh starter) for 6 people:
- A bunch of asparagus – fairly obvious really, but for this, you’ll need quite robust asparagus. Thin local-grown English asparagus is great for quick butter sautéing (cor, does the really fresh local English produce taste so nice) or for asparagus spear tarts, but for this flash git version you’ll ideally need the thicker stuff. Late season English; or even better, the South American – probably Peruvian – asparagus works best. Allocate three or four fat spears per person for a starter.
- 250g Streaky bacon – smoked or ‘green’ (unsmoked); no matter, whichever you prefer. This should be in long strips, so that it can be wound around the asparagus.
- Butter – perhaps a little garlic butter left over from doing garlic bread? – see Tricks’n’Tips.
- Asparagus is easy to prepare. Don’t cut it; break it.
- Feel your way along the stem between the finger and thumb of both hands, bending each spear carefully to discover where it naturally snaps. You will, of course, want to retain as much of the expensive vegetable as possible, so start at the cut end and find out where it snaps. This way you’ll get the best of the spear and avoid the stringy bit – but don’t bin the end that you cut off; keep it by for now. You can make soup from it using the blanching water and the peelings as well. You may be a flash git in the making, but you can also be an economical and, if necessary, quite frugal (in other words, tight as a duck’s arse) flash git.
- If the spears are thick enough, carefully peel (with a potato peeler, not a knife) the very outer skin from the lower stems, below the knobbly bits, retaining the peelings for soup/stock, as above.
- Wipe the spears dry with kitchen roll and smear them with the butter or garlic butter.
- Bunch two or three spears together and start winding on the bacon from just below the knobbly bits, down to the broken ends, avoiding any further overlap if possible on the way down, covering the stem without gaps. It may take two strips, depending on length of asparagus and/or bacon strips.
- Lay them onto a plate or into a container for cooking just before needed. Keep the prepared spears cool – and don’t let anyone see them as they’ll be SUCH a surprise when you bring them out looking gorgeous. Yo, man.
- When almost time to consume your prized items, gently sauté (yes, that does mean gently fry) these beauties, keeping them moving, as you now well know) in very little oil, as the bacon has a fat content and you also have the butter to consider. Be really careful to keep the cooking long and low if you used garlic butter, as you don’t want the garlic to burn and go bitter.
- Turn them carefully so that they don’t unwrap, they’ll take about 5 to 10 minutes – or maybe longer, depending on the bottom heat used – or until the bacon has properly crisped up – cos they’re nicer that way.
- Present them on a slice or a chunk of brown/wholemeal bread, criss-crossed in a pretty pattern. This will absorb the excess fats and leave the spears (and the bread) just scrummy.
Cor, you sure is lucky to have this little booky. (Well…… blog thingy anyway).