Savory flans have long been a favorite in Europe and they actually have their roots in ancient Rome. Asparagus flan is one of the premier dishes of this group. Served with a lemon chicken or some other simple entree this dish creates a superb effect at even the best dinner parties. If wine is being served at the meal a white such as chardonay (or dandelion wine, if you can get it) will set it off perfectly. This recipe makes about eight servings.
2 pounds asparagus
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 egg whites (save yokes for sauce)
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 dash salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 pound fontina cheese cut into small pieces
2 egg yokes
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
Cut off and set aside the heads of 8 spears of asparagus (about 2 inches in length). Cut remaining asparagus into 1 inch chunks, microwave (4 minutes) or steam until tender. Place steamed spears into a blender and puree. If you end up with chunks, you will want to remove them by pushing the asparagus through a strainer. Now add remaining "custard ingredients" to blender and thoroughly mix.
Prepare a 7 or 8 inch pie pan (a clear glass dish works best) or round cake pan by thoroughly coating with butter to prevent sticking and add a coating of flavor. (You man also make individual flans as in our photo above.) Run 1 inch of water into the base of a roasting pan. Place on oven rack, then place pie dish in the water bath - making certain that water does not over-flow custard dish. Pour custard mixture into the pie dish. Carefully push in rack and close oven door. Set temp to 350° F and cook for 50 minutes to one hour. Flan is done when a knife or toothpick can be inserted and withdrawn clean. When done, place flan on a rack to cool.
As flan cools for 15 to 20 minutes make fontina sauce. On the stove top place a wide saucepan with about an inch of warm water. Simmer water. In a separate thin metal bowl place all the sauce ingredients. Place metal bowl in simmering water. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon until cheese melts and sauce thickens. (For safety be certain to heat to at least 165° F.) Remove pan from heat.
Microwave set aside spears in a small bowl covered with a paper towel until tender. Meanwhile run a knife around edge of flan to separate it from pie dish. Place large dish over the top and flip. Now jiggle the flan loose this is where using a glass dish will pay off as you will be able to see when the flan breaks free. Cut into eight (or six) wedges and place on serving plates. Spoon on sauce and then place a freshly microwaved spear head on top facing the same direction as the point. Serve hot.
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