Asparagus and ham pancakes
- May 2015
- Serves 4-6
- Hands-on time 45 min, plus infusing/resting
Debbie Major’s savoury pancake recipe sees pancakes stuffed with asparagus and ham and topped off with a rich bechamel sauce.
- 30.7g (17.3g saturated)
- 26.8g (8.9g sugars)
(based on 6)
- 32-40 long, thin asparagus spears (depending on their thickness)
- 8 large, thin slices good quality cooked English Ham
- 30g parmesan, grated
For the pancakes
- 110g plain flour, sifted
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 medium free-range egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- 275ml whole milk
- 50g butter, melted
- A little sunflower oil for cooking
For the bechamel sauce
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves
- 600ml milk
- ½ tsp cracked black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 50g butter
- 35g plain flour
- 50ml double cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- For the pancakes, sift the flour and salt into a liquidiser or the bowl of a food processor. Add the egg, egg yolk, milk and melted butter, then blend together to make a smooth batter the consistency of double cream. (If you don’t have a food processor, put the flour in a bowl, beat the egg and yolk with the milk and melted butter, then stir into the flour in a thin stream until smooth.) Let the batter rest for about 30 minutes or so.
- For the béchamel, quarter the onion, stud each piece with 1 clove and put in a pan with the milk, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then take off the heat and set aside for 30 minutes with the batter.
- After half an hour, put an 18-19cm non-stick frying pan over a medium- high heat. Brush the pan with a little oil, then pour in a small ladleful of the batter (about 3 tbsp – in one go) and quickly swirl it around so it thinly coats the pan. Cook for 1 minute until lightly golden underneath, then turn over and cook for 30 seconds more until marked with light brown spots. Slide the pancake onto a warm plate and repeat with the remaining batter, layering up the pancakes with squares of baking paper between.
- Cut or snap off the woody ends (and discard) from each asparagus spear. Drop the asparagus into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 3 minutes, then drain and cool under cold water. Dry well on kitchen paper.
- To finish the béchamel sauce, bring the milk back to the boil, then strain into a jug, discarding the flavourings left in the sieve. Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan, stir in the flour and cook gently for a minute or two without colouring. Gradually stir in the hot milk, bring to the boil and leave to simmer gently over a very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until it has slightly reduced and thickened. Stir in the cream and season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper (see Debbie’s tip). Keep warm, stirring now and then.
- Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/ gas 5. Lay each pancake in turn on a work surface and top with a ham slice. Lay 4-5 asparagus spears down the centre, then roll up. Lay the rolled-up pancakes side by side and seam-side down in a lightly buttered ovenproof dish (or dishes). Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the pancakes are golden brown and slightly crisp. Meanwhile, heat the grill to high.
- Remove the pancakes from the oven and pour the sauce over the pancakes (make sure they’re covered or the edges will burn, but leave the ends of the asparagus uncovered). Sprinkle with the cheese, slide under the grill and cook, in batches if you’ve used several dishes, for 2 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown. Serve.
Debbie says: “If you’d like a cheesier béchamel, add extra parmesan or grated well-flavoured hard cheese in step 4 such as cheddar or gruyère.”
Assemble the pancakes up to the point before you bake them in step 6, up to 24 hours in advance. Keep in the fridge, wrapped in cling film.
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