asparagus in parchment

asparagi al cartoccio

4 servings



SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: 8 (13- x 14-inch) pieces of parchment paper




Heat oven to 425° with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Steam asparagus in a steamer set over boiling water, covered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry.

Put 1/4 of the asparagus in the center of 1 piece of parchment paper. Repeat with remaining asparagus and paper; set aside. Reserve remaining paper.
Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces; set aside. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until melted, then add flour and cook over low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add hot milk little by little, whisking to incorporate between additions, then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, whisking, until béchamel is thickened 3 to 4 minutes more.  Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon béchamel over asparagus, then top with Emmental, prosciutto and reserved butter, and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Top with reserved parchment pieces, then crimp edges to form sealed packets. Put packets on baking sheets and bake until heated through, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer packets to plates, cut open and serve immediately.