Nathan's English asparagus with quails eggs and a lemon butter sauce
At last Spring has finally arrived with all its exciting new season’s ingredients on offer:- asparagus, Jersey Royals, wild morels, wild garlic, tarragon, chives, tender lamb – the list grows daily and I need to cook with all of them.
We have an abundance of wild garlic in our copse but you can look for it on riverbanks and lakesides.
As a fisherman I often bring handfuls home with me and love the little star shaped white flowers to scatter over the food.
Here’s a very simple asparagus starter from Nathan for you to try at home.
For 4 people you will need:
- 2 bunches of trimmed English asparagus
- Choose fresh bright green stems with tight tips.
- Trim the last inch of the woody ends of the stems and discard.
- 6 soft boiled quail’s eggs
For the sauce:
- 1 lemon freshly squeezed
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 75ml vegetable stock
- 25 ml double cream
- 125g unsalted butter – chilled and cubed
- a handful freshly chopped chives
Start by making the sauce and soft boil the quail’s eggs
- Pour the stock into a pan and reduce by half.
- Add the lemon juice and sugar and reduce again.
- Add a splash of double cream to stabilise the sauce
- Whisk in as much of the butter as you need to thicken and make a glossy sauce.
Using unsalted butter allows you to control the seasoning better.
- DO NOT BOIL.
- Season to taste.
- Bring a shallow pan of water to the boil with salt and a knob of butter.
- When it’s a fast rolling boil, drop in the asparagus, reduce the heat and cook for 2 minutes.
- The asparagus will turn bright green and be “al dente”.
- Meanwhile shell the eggs and cut in half.
- Arrange the asparagus on serving plates. Top with 1½ eggs each plate.
- Add the chives to the sauce and pour carefully around the asparagus, drizzling a little over the top.
A few chive flowers or wild garlic flowers look very pretty on top.
(As a point of interest, herbal flowers are edible and taste of the actual herb so can add
subtelty to a dish.)