English asparagus was commonly known as sparrow grass (or so it’s believed) and grows annually across the UK in the months of May and June. The white asparagus that is more common in mainland Europe is grown in the dark and pulled out of the soil, whereas the green asparagus is cut once fully grown in sunlight.
Not only is it quick and easy to prepare, but it can also be used in a variety of styles; from simply boiled and served with melted butter to a more extravagant stir fry, tempura, or used in savoury custards. My favourite flavours are with fresh sheep’s cheese, summer truffle or as below with rich and indulgent lemon hollandaise.
Method for the chicken:
- Rub the chicken with a little clarified butter and sea salt.
- In a non-stick pan place the chicken skin side down and over a low to medium heat, cook the skin until golden and crisp, turn over, add a knob of butter and tablespoon water and cook through, another 8 to 10 minutes.
Method for the Hollandaise:
- Place the egg yolk and pass the lemon through a strainer discarding the zest. Add a tablespoon of water into a stainless steel bowl, then over a pan of simmering water (known as a Bain Marie) whisk the eggs continuously until they start to thicken to a ribbon stage. Remove from heat instantly then gradually add the melted butter whisking continuously until rich and velvety.
- Season to taste with salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Method for asparagus:
- Snap the tough ends from the base of the asparagus, peel from the tip down then blanch in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Refresh in ice-cold water and keep to one side ready to reheat.
- When ready to serve, warm through in some melted butter with a splash of water to emulsify and sea salt to taste.
- Carve the chicken into two then place onto warm serving plates, alongside the warm asparagus, a good dollop of hollandaise and a fine grating of fresh lemon zest. I like to serve this with a light, chilled unoaked Chardonnay.