Chargrilled asparagus with parmesan lemon dressing & brioche-crumbed egg

Chargrilled asparagus with parmesan lemon dressing & brioche-crumbed egg

By
From
Huxtabook
Serves
4 as part of a shared meal
Photographer
Chris Middleton

Spring is a wonderful time of year for food. Asparagus is one of the delights that defines this season. You have to make sure that you get your fill when it’s around, because it’s gone again in a flash! This is my version of some of the classic flavours that go well with asparagus. Blanching the asparagus before cooking really helps it stay plump and juicy. We use Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan, as it is hard to go past the best.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
20 asparagus spears
50ml white wine vinegar
4 free-range eggs
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil, for tossing
parmesan cheese, for shaving

Parmesan lemon dressing

Quantity Ingredient
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
100ml lemon juice
50g grated parmesan
300ml olive oil

Brioche crumbs

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 loaf day-old brioche, diced, from a good baker
1 egg
100ml milk
plain flour, for dusting

Method

  1. For the parmesan lemon dressing

    Bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil and gently add the whole eggs. Cook for 3 minutes, then cool the eggs in iced water.
  2. Shell the eggs and add to a food processor with the mustard, lemon juice and parmesan. Blitz together, then add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream to make a rich, creamy, emulsified dressing. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until required; the dressing can be made several days ahead.
  3. For the asparagus

    Trim the asparagus stems, so the spears are about 12 cm long. Test that you have cut the woody part away by slicing a small disc from the end and tasting it. (I think the ‘snapping’ method is a load of rubbish, because the asparagus will snap depending on how you are holding it, not necessarily where the woody bit ends.) Lightly peel the asparagus — or if it is young and tender, there is no need.
  4. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until just tender, but still crisp. Remove and refresh in iced water. Once cool, drain on paper towel and set aside.
  5. To poach the eggs

    Bring a saucepan of salted water to poaching temperature (just below simmering point — there should be no movement in the water, maybe just a few bubbles on the bottom of the pan). Add the vinegar. Crack the eggs into a cup, then gently slide them into the water. Cook for 3–4 minutes, until the whites are firm, but the yolks are still runny. Remove using a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of iced water to stop the eggs cooking any further. Remove from the iced water and drain on paper towel.
  6. For the brioche crumbs

    Pulse the brioche in a clean, dry food processor until you have a mix of coarse and fine crumbs. Set aside.
  7. In a bowl, whisk the egg and milk together well.
  8. Dust the poached eggs in the flour, then pass through the egg wash, then coat with the brioche crumbs. Repeat the egg wash and brioche crumbs, pressing the crumbs on to make a good crust. Place in the fridge to set for 1 hour.
  9. To finish the dish

    Heat about 5 cm of vegetable oil in a medium-sized saucepan to 180°C. Test by dipping a wooden chopstick into the oil: the chopstick will sizzle when the oil is ready.
  10. Meanwhile, also heat a cast-iron grill plate (or barbecue) to high.
  11. Toss the asparagus with a little lemon olive oil and some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on the grill for 4–5 minutes, or until it has good grill marks on it, and is hot but not overcooked or burnt. Toss it with a little of the parmesan lemon dressing to coat.
  12. Gently lower the crumbed eggs into the oil and cook for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. You want the crumbs to be cooked, but the yolk to be runny. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately drain on paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. To serve

    Arrange the asparagus on plates or a large platter and drizzle with more of the parmesan lemon dressing.
  14. Plop the crumbed eggs on top, then use a vegetable peeler to shave more parmesan over the whole dish. Serve straight away.
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