New season asparagus with a crispy poached egg recipe
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 June 2016 | UPDATED: 19:59 08 October 2017
Carden Park head chef Graham Tinsley explains how to cook asparagus and some vegetable rules!
When I was a young commis chef I wasn’t allowed to touch the asparagus, that was the job of the more experienced sous chef - although this was in the days when I was in a brigade of 70 at The Midland Hotel, Manchester, and 120 at the Dorchester.
The English asparagus season runs from May until June so it is a pretty short season and although it is a versatile vegetable (for example, you can make mousses or soups from it) it is best served simply, as in this recipe here where it is served with a crispy poached egg.
Perhaps what many people don’t know is that you’ve got to peel it and you do this by laying it flat on a bench and turning it with the palm of your hand. I don’t ever throw away the peel as this can be used to make a velouté or a soup and all that stuff about snapping the end off is rubbish, you just need to take the very woody tip off at the base.
You cook it for a few minutes in rapidly boiling water. There is a rule for cooking vegetables and it is this: if it grows beneath the ground, such as potatoes, carrots, beetroot and Jerusalem artichokes, then it has to go in cold water. If you used boiling water the outside would be cooked before the inside had the chance to heat up. If it grows above the ground, such as asparagus, peas, cauliflower etc then you use rapidly boiling water to cook quickly then plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process further.
To retain the colour of green vegetables, add lots of salt or a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to set the colour.
The vegetable section of a professional kitchen is arguably one of the easiest sections to work in but in my experience it can also be one of the easiest sections to ruin as well!
New season asparagus with a crispy poached egg
24 spears of asparagus
8 slices of air dried ham
4 free range eggs
flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs for coating
• Peel the asparagus leaving the bright green spear at the top. Cut off about 1 cm from the base.
• Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the asparagus, cook until tender then plunge into ice cold water to stop it overcooking. Save a little of the cooking water.
• Take four pieces of asparagus and put in a blender with a little of the cooking liquor and the butter, blend to a smooth puree, season.
• Bring a pan of boiling water to a simmer with a little white wine vinegar and poach the 4 eggs, again plunge into ice cold water to stop cooking. Dry the eggs on a clean cloth and coat in flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs.
• Reheat the asparagus and put five pieces on each plate with the ham, deep fry the egg in hot vegetable oil and place on top of the asparagus, garnish with the puree.
Head Chef Graham Tinsley MBE was at Carden Park from the beginning when it opened in 1997 and worked there for 10 years before leaving to open his own restaurant at the Castle Hotel in Conwy, which he still owns. He returned to Carden Park and has been there for the past five years.
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