Kent Asparagus with a soft Burford Brown egg, herb salad and buttermilk vinaigrette
|2||bunches very fresh English Asparagus|
|4||Clarence Court Burford Brown Eggs|
|2 tbsp||extra virgin rapeseed oil|
|4||thin slices of sourdough bread|
|cracked black pepper|
|sea salt (preferably Cornish)|
We source our Asparagus from a supplier in Faversham, Kent called Henry Bryant who has been sending his fantastic asparagus to Albert Roux’s London kitchens for many years. Wherever you find your asparagus, this is the ideal spring salad to show it off – soft lettuces, a tart creamy vinaigrette and once you break into the egg a rich golden yolk as the sauce. I’ve specified here a Burford Brown egg and they are the same as I use in the restaurant – they come from free roaming, well cared for hens and have a beautiful colour and flavour that is well worth seeking out.
- Place all the asparagus flat on a chopping board. At the base there will be a hard woody section about 1 inch long. Cut through all of the asparagus at this point. If it still feels a little tough take off another half an inch of the asparagus. Holding the asparagus tip up with a small knife remove the ‘scales’ that you find intermittently along the stem. They should come off easily. At this point I like to keep a little of the asparagus raw, shaving it very thinly on a mandoline.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and salt it generously. Prepare an ice bath of cold water and ice cubes in a bowl big enough to hold the asparagus. Blanch the stems in two batches (so as not to bring the water off the boil) for about two minutes, just until they’re tender and remove them immediately using a slotted spoon to the ice bath. Discard the boiling water and when the asparagus is cool remove it from the water and transfer it to a tray lined with kitchen paper to dry.
- Bring another, smaller, pan of water to the boil. When it is at a rolling boil gently lower in the eggs. As soon as the water returns to the boil set a timer for exactly 6 minutes. As soon as the timer pings transfer the eggs to a large bowl of ice water and leave them to cool for five minutes. Gently peel the eggs, being careful not to leave any little fragments of shell attached. This is what the French call an egg ‘Mollet’ – the white is just set and the yolk soft and flowing.
- To make the buttermilk dressing finely chop most of the chives and chervil, keeping back a few sprigs for decorating the plates. Pour the buttermilk into a bowl and whisk in a little Extra Virgin Rapeseed oil – I like it’s nutty flavour here. Add the chopped herbs, a little salt and lemon juice to taste and some coarsely ground black pepper.
- Gently remove the outer leaves of the round lettuce, which can be bitter, keeping just the soft yellow inner leaves. Gently wash and dry the tender lettuce hearts and put them in a bowl with the raw asparagus.
- Crisp the thinly sliced sourdough bread under a grill.
- Dress the asparagus and lettuce lightly with a little EV rapeseed oil and salt and arrange it on four plates. Sprinkle over the herb fronds and place a soft egg on each, sprinkling a little more salt on the egg. Spoon over the buttermilk dressing and finish each plate with a sourdough crisp.