|asparagus with Flemish sauce|
A recent piece on asparagus recipes by Nigel Slater in The Observer stated:
Fat is what makes asparagus worth eating – an egg-and-butter sauce, the hot fat from bacon or pancetta you have cubed and fried and used as dressing for the spears, the running yolk of a poached egg. Without butter or egg or bacon fat, or the liquid centre of a Camembert, Tunworth or other softly melting cheese, asparagus doesn’t quite hit the spot. Try it with melted butter to which you have added a shot of lemon juice.Which reminded me of a recipe that I have seen in lots of old cookbooks from the 30s and 40s, including Ambrose Heath's classic Book of Sauces (1949) which describes a sauce, called variously "Flemish Sauce" or "Bruxelles Sauce".
If you remember the classic Morecombe and Wise "Andre Preview" sketch; "I am playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order", this asparagus accompaniment is the sort of sauce equivalent. It has all the same ingredients as a Hollandaise sauce but it is much easier to make (as there is no danger of curdling).
This sauce seems to have fallen out of fashion, which is a great shame. It is light and buttery and full of soft-boiled egg. Enough to keep Nigel happy and, of course, me.
Skill level: Easy
1kg steamed asparagus
4 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Season to taste. Stir in the chopped egg, lemon juice and parsley.
- Make sure the asparagus is drained well before serving with the sauce.
- I prefer my eggs lightly hard-boiled. Medium eggs cooked in boiling water for 8 minutes, before shocking in cold water.