CHARRED ASPARAGUS WITH BRANDY PEPPER HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

If you are feeling a little fancy and want to wow your guests with an appetiser that packs a punch, then this is the perfect choice! Charred asparagus is something of magic on its own but with the double dip of the hollandaise sauce followed by the rosemary and nigella seed bread crumbs, there won’t ever be enough! Perfect for a starter or a general snack with a few beers!

Ingredients Serves 4

  • 16 large asparagus
  • 2 large handfuls of ice

For the hollandaise sauce:

  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp. brandy
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • Season to taste

For the crumb:

  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 2 slices of bread (blitz into breadcrumbs)

Method

  1. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus simply by holding the hard end of the stem and bending it until it breaks. It should snap perfectly where the woody end finishes and the lovely eating part begins.
  2. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes and then into ice water to stop the cooking progress. Once the asparagus is sitting in the ice bath, it’s time to make the hollandaise sauce!
  3. Before you begin, melt the butter using either a pan or microwave but do not burn it! Start with a heat proof bowl and a saucepan. You need enough water in the pan not to touch the bowl. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer. We do not want it so hot that the eggs will scramble. Get a balloon whisk ready and then add your yolks, beating the eggs until they have mixed together. Now add the white wine vinegar, continually stirring, ensuring that the mixture keeps moving. Now add the butter in slowly bit by bit whilst you keep moving your whisk until all of the butter is in the bowl. Keep whisking until it thickens into a smooth creamy sauce thick enough to hold onto that lovely asparagus. Take off the heat and cover.
  4. In a small frying pan, with a tsp of oil, fry the black pepper on medium heat quickly and then add the brandy in. Tip the pan ever slightly until the brandy catches light. This technique is called flambé, which will burn off the alcohol, leaving a lovely flavour. Be sure to stand back a little and with a small shake it will simmer back down. By now the brandy should have soaked into the pepper and after a few minutes of letting it cool, you can mix it into the hollandaise along with the lemon juice. Cover and set aside.
  5. For the crumb, add about 2 tablespoons of oil to a pan and chuck in all of your ingredients. Gently fry/toast for 4-5 minutes until it’s golden and crispy. Tip into a bowl and then wipe the pan clean ready for the asparagus.
  6. Turn the heat up high on the pan until its smoking. Add the asparagus to the dry frying pan until it has black charred on both sides.
  7. Serve with the Hollandaise sauce and crumb.

 

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