… with Orange Hollandaise. Asparagus, egg and hollandaise – a classic combination. And it is a classic for a reason, it is such a delicious dish. Add in some bacon or smoked salmon and you have a very impressive starter, light lunch or brunch dish. This dish is inspired by a meal I had in The Square Table in Blarney. I had their starter of crispy egg with mushrooms, bacon and hollandaise, it was just gorgeous. I wasn’t sure what way they would go with the crispy egg, but when it came out as a breadcrumbed soft boiled egg, I was in heaven! By the way, do go to there if you ever get a chance, it is a fabulous restaurant.
I thought that breadcrumbing a boiled egg would be tricky but it’s just the same as coating anything else. The boiling of the egg is probably trickier! You want the white set but only just so that the yolk stays runny after you have fried it. I would advise doing a spare egg as it is all too easy to break a soft boiled egg when peeling it. You can still use it but you won’t be able to coat it and fry it. You can boil the egg in advance and store it in the fridge before peeling it and prepping it for frying. It is a very quick dish to make but you do need to be alert as everything really comes together at the same time.
Sabrina Ghayour was on Saturday Kitchen at the weekend – I still miss James Martin – and gave a great method for cooking asparagus. Just boil some water, place the asparagus in a shallow dish and cover with the boiling water. Simply leave it there for five minutes and your asparagus will be perfectly cooked. Genius!
There are endless ways to vary this dish. Replace the bacon with smoked trout or salmon or leave it out altogether. Add a potato rosti to it if you would like a more substantial meal. If you don’t want to make a crispy egg, use a poached or fried egg instead.
I have made the hollandaise sauce in a more traditional way in this recipe but if you want to try a foolproof blender method have a look at my eggs benedict recipe (please ignore the terrible photos). Here I used oranges instead of lemon juice for a different flavour. I actually used blood oranges and that is why the sauce has such a vibrant colour.
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup of plain flour
- ½ cup of breadcrumbs, preferably panko but regular will do
- Salt and Pepper
- 200g of asparagus spears
- 80g of pancetta or smoked bacon
- 75g of butter
- 2 egg yolks
- The juice of ½ an orange
- Vegetable oil
- Start the prep by boiling the eggs. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and gently lower two of the eggs into the water. Boil for 5½ minutes, immediately remove the eggs and place them into a bowl of iced water to cool. I would usually boil them for six minutes for soft boiled but as these are going into the fryer after you don’t want to over cook them. You can store the eggs in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
- To coat the eggs set up three bowls to pane your eggs. Put the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper in the first bowl, beat the third egg in the next and put the breadcrumbs in the third bowl. Gently peel your boiled eggs and roll them to coat them in the seasoned flour, then in the beaten egg and lastly coat completely in the breadcrumbs. You can do a double coat if you want to be sure the eggs are fully covered. Set the eggs to one side.
- Trim the asparagus spears by holding them at both ends and gently bending them. The woody end will snap off and discard this. Put the asparagus in the boiling water as described above.
- Melt the butter for the hollandaise and set aside to cool slightly.
- If you are using pancetta or bacon put it on to fry or grill until crispy. When cooked, drain it on some kitchen paper.
- Heat about 6cm of oil in a deep saucepan or heat a deep fryer.
- Set up a bain marie but putting a heat proof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Whisk the two egg yolks and put them into the bowl with the orange juice and some salt and pepper. Make sure the water underneath doesn’t heat up too much or the eggs will scramble and split.
- Keep whisking the eggs and orange over the heat until it starts to thicken. Very slowly pour in the melted butter, whisking the whole time, until it is nearly all added. You will see some white milk solids in the bottom of the melted butter, do not add these to the eggs.
- Keep whisking the hollandaise sauce until it has thickened to the consistency you want. Do not be tempted to turn up the heat or the sauce will split. If this does happen, quickly put the bowl into a bowl of ice cold water and whisk it vigourously. The sauce will come back together – I promise you.
- When the sauce is cooked check for seasoning, take it off the heat and set to one side.
- Check to see if your oil is hot enough. You don’t want it too hot, just hot enough that if you drop a few breadcrumbs into it, it will sizzle. Carefully use a slotted spoon to lower the coated egg into the oil and fry until the breadcrumbs are a nice golden brown colour. This will only take a couple of minutes so keep an eye on it. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the second egg.
- When everything is ready, drain the asparagus. Arrange everything as you like on a plate and serve immediately.