Sticking with the theme of yesterday’s savory fennel and apple tart, I’m back today with another dish that would be great for Easter brunch, or even as a fancy side dish to Easter dinner. I love roasted asparagus, and I’m ready to eat massive amounts of it as soon as it comes back into season each spring. And you know what I love just as much as roasted asparagus? Poached eggs.
It’s my sincere belief that any meal or dish can be improved upon if a poached egg is placed on top. But it wasn’t until recently that I feel like I mastered poached eggs in the oh-yeah-I-can-get-this-right-every-time way. The secret? I stopped swirling the freakin’ water. I’d been trained to get the water simmering, then put a spoon in and swirl vigorously until you have a tornado working in the pot.
Well, the swirl method just really didn’t work for me. I never got a nicely-shaped egg in the end. There were always, like, egg tendrils that escaped and got lost in the pot. Once I stopped swirling the water and instead just started sliding the eggs (slowwwwwllllly) into completely still water, my poached egg win-to-fail ratio improved greatly.
The sauce here can sort of be thought of as a lazy-man’s hollandaise, without the massive amounts of butter. So maybe it’s not like hollandaise at all. But, it’s lemony and has a mustard kick to it, and the tarragon adds a little herbal note. The thing about this sauce is that it seems like it was way harder to make than it actually was. And doesn’t everybody like to impress their relatives at brunch?
Update: On 4/14/14, this recipe was chosen as a Wildcard Community Pick at Food52 and professionally photographed by James Ransom:
- 1 bunch thin asparagus
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus additional for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 eggs
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a rimmed baking pan, arrange asparagus in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 12 minutes or until asparagus is tender.
- In small saucepan, heat cream over medium-high heat until just simmering. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 6 to 8 minutes or until cream is reduced to 1/2 cup, or is a thickened, saucy consistency. Remove from heat; whisk in lemon juice, butter, tarragon, lemon zest, mustard powder, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Keep in a warm spot on your stove.
- Fill a high-sided skillet with water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat so that water is just barely bubbling. Add vinegar to water. Crack each egg into a small bowl or ramekin and slide egg into water. Poach 3 to 4 minutes or until whites are cooked through but yolk is still soft. Remove eggs from pan and drain on paper towel.
- Divide asparagus between plates. Top with poached eggs and drizzle with sauce; garnish with additional tarragon.