Asparagus, poached eggs and hollandaise

I knew spring had truly sprung when I saw this glistening stack of green asparagus on my plate six weeks or so ago. Asparagus season is pretty much over now, but I couldn’t quite let it go without posting this lovely recipe.

It works for brunch, lunch and dinner, possibly even for a post-theatre supper. It’s part of my never-ending quest for the perfect poached egg. I’ve given up on Delia’s weird-10 minute method, opting now for the standard two-minute method, with super fresh eggs, a very small saucepan and a squirt of lemon juice.

This is more a compiling of ingredients plus a recipe for hollandaise, than anything else. It needs to be served immediately, so is not suitable for a crowd. Perfect for an extremely greedy two.

Poached eggs and asparagus

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 4 eggs
  • lemon juice (I use the plastic lemon jif variety.)
  • A ciabatta loaf or similar
  • olive oile

Hollandaise sauce

  • 100 grams butter, melted with 1 tablespoon reserved
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • a few tablespoons of lukewarm water
  • salt and pepper

First make the sauce. Add the egg yolks to a double-boiler, or a bowl set over a pan of boiling water, and begin to beat. Beat until they change colour and are pale and thick. Remove from the heat, but keep the bowl over the pan of hot water. Beat in the lemon juice, half a tablespoon of water and the tablespoon of reserved melted butter. Drizzle in a little of the slightly cooled melted butter and beat. Continue drizzling in the butter while beating. If it looks like the sauce is going to curdle at any point, beat in a half tablespoon of water until the sauce returns to a single consistency. There are good tips on saving a hollandaise here.) You need to be quick throughout this entire process to keep the sauce smooth. Beat in some salt and pepper to taste once the butter is combined. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave over the hot water to stay warm while you poach the eggs and cook the asparagus.

Bring two pots of water to the boil: a large one and a small one. Heat a cast iron griddle pan. 

Drop the asparagus into the large pan of boiling water and leave for 1 minute until bright green. Remove the asparagus and refresh under cold water. Pour some olive oil into a plate and use this to coat the asparagus. Once the griddle is hot, add the asparagus and cook on two sides until black lines appear. Removed to a warmed plate.

Slice the ciabatta. Dip the slices of bread into the olive oil and place onto the griddle pan until they too have char lines. While the bread is frying, poach the eggs. Squirt a tablespoon of lemon juice into the small pan of boiling water and stir. Using a ladle or large spoon, gently drop an egg into the slightly simmering water. Poach for two minutes.

Remove the ciabatta from the pan. Arrange on a plate with the eggs on top. Place the asparagus next to the eggs and drizzle hollandaise across the eggs and vegetables. Eat quickly!

Poached eggs and new asparagus


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