Fred Berkmiller offers a great recipe showcasing the wonderful flavour of James Mackie's West of Scotland grown asparagus (albaragus)

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I grew up in the Loire Valley a few miles from Tours. Each year at the end of May my mum would drive to Bourgeuil, a little town famous for its wines but also for its asparagus that were white and purple. My brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, grandmothers, our neighbours and close friends would all go with my mum to get the first asparagus of the year. It had to be the first crop as that was the best, my family would never settle for anything less. My mum would bring home at least 12 to 20 kilos of asparagus and my dad would peel them and sterilise them into Le parfait jars so we could have them to eat all year round. Albaragus (West of Scotland-grown asparagus) will cook very quickly. I’d recommend peeling only the largest one. Add them to salted boiling water for a few minutes and serve straight away whilst they’re still warm. They go perfectly with salted butter or with a dollop of seasoned crème fraiche. The recipe possibilities are endless; add them to your fishcake mix, season them in a salad with lemon dressing or red wine vinaigrette or fry them in olive oil for a few minutes and use them in your sandwich with smoked salmon or salted beef. They will accompany any fish but I’d say they work better with white fish. Experiment! That’s what cooking is all about. Have fun and enjoy this extremely flavoursome Scottish seasonal ingredient. Bon appétit.

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of Albaragus
  • 24 snails
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tsp. butter
  • 20cl beef stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • Fresh chervil or parsley, to garnish

Method

  1. Sauté the snails in a small pan with one teaspoon of butter and the finely diced shallots for a few minutes. Add the crushed garlic and gently heat through. Season, taste and season again if necessary.
  2. In a separate frying pan, fry your asparagus very slowly in olive oil and one teaspoon of butter for four minutes. Season and taste.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, reduce the beef stock and add one teaspoon of butter.
  4. To serve, dress your asparagus on a plate with the snails on top. Finally pour over the beef stock and season with fresh chervil or parsley. Enjoy with a glass of red wine.

About The Author

Fred Berkmiller

Chef-patron of L’escargot blanc and L’escargot bleu restaurants in Edinburgh, Fred Berkmiller started his hôtellerie apprenticeship in his home town of Tours in the Loire Valley. Now Settled in Scotland, Fred is hugely passionate about cooking the very best Scottish produce with a French twist in both of his restaurants

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About The Author

Fred Berkmiller

Chef-patron of L’escargot blanc and L’escargot bleu restaurants in Edinburgh, Fred Berkmiller started his hôtellerie apprenticeship in his home town of Tours in the Loire Valley. Now Settled in Scotland, Fred is hugely passionate about cooking the very best Scottish produce with a French twist in both of his restaurants