- 20 spears (2½ bunches) asparagus
- 100 gm butter
- 2 golden shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 200 ml pouring cream
- 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 golden shallots, finely diced
- ¼ long red chilli, finely chopped
- 150 gm speck, cut into 5mm dice
- 100 ml chicken stock
- 25 ml sherry vinegar
- 1Trim and peel 8 asparagus tips and set aside. Slice remaining asparagus into thin rounds, discarding the woody ends. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender but not coloured (2-3 minutes). Add sliced asparagus and stir occasionally until asparagus starts to soften (2 minutes), then add stock, season to taste and simmer until asparagus is tender (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and strain, reserving cooking liquor, then blend asparagus in a blender until smooth, adding a small amount of cooking liquor if needed to form a smooth purée. Pass purée through a fine sieve and refrigerate until chilled (you’ll need 220ml).
- 2Preheat a steam oven to 90C. Whisk eggs, yolks and cream and reserved 220ml asparagus purée in a bowl to combine and season to taste. Pass through a fine sieve. Pour 125ml into four 185ml heatproof bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Steam in a steam oven (or steam very gently in a steamer basket placed over a saucepan of simmering water) and steam until just set (25-30 minutes). Remove and cool to room temperature. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until required; custards will keep covered with plastic wrap for 2 days.
- 3Blanch asparagus tips in boiling water (1-2 minutes), then refresh in iced water. Set aside to drain.
- 4For speck dressing, heat a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, then shallots and chilli, and stir occasionally until tender but not coloured (1-2 minutes). Add speck, and stir until light golden-brown (5-6 minutes), then add chicken stock and sherry vinegar and reduce by half (3-4 minutes). Add remaining olive oil and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
- 5To serve, bring asparagus custards to room temperature if chilled, then spoon speck dressing on top, garnish each with 2 asparagus tips and finish with a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper to taste.