- With the rack in the highest position, preheat the oven’s broiler.
- Cut off the fibrous stalk of the asparagus and discard. Slice the asparagus into sections. Place the pieces of asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
- Remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a saucepan, soften the shallots in the butter for about 2 minutes without browning. Add the flour and stir to blend. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Add the nutmeg and parsley. Season with salt, as needed depending on whether the ham is salty or not, and pepper.
- In a 2 litre (8 cups) baking dish, combine the warm ham, asparagus and bechamel.
- In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese. Sprinkle over the gratin. Brown under the broiler for a few minutes and serve.
When it comes to ham, I much prefer the flavor of the ham in the shoulder, that you must cook yourself. It cooks for a long time, but the result is worth it. Remove the ham from its net and place it in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and repeat two more times to desalt the ham. Drain again, cover with cool water and gently simmer the ham, one last time, until cooked throughout, from 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on its size.