Recipe of the Week – English asparagus, slow-cooked pheasant egg, smoked bacon crumbs, by Dave Watts

31 May 2012
Recipe of the Week – English asparagus, slow-cooked pheasant egg, smoked bacon crumbs, by Dave Watts

(Serves four)
650g English asparagus
4 pheasant eggs

For the asparagus salad
30g asparagus tips
6g Aconbury sprouts
4g smoked bacon dressing

For the asparagus purée
20g virgin rapeseed oil
250g green asparagus trimmings
17g curly parsley (picked weight), washed
1.5g salt
10g baby spinach (washed)
20ml water
Ground black pepper

For the smoked bacon dressing
30g bacon oil (100g smoked bacon trimmings/skin, 100g pomace oil, 100g rapeseed oil. Infuse at 70°C. for one hour, chill and reserve with the trimmings, use as required).
10g rice wine vinegar
40g white chicken stock
0.2g Xantana
0.5g salt

For the smoked bacon and rye breadcrumbs
60g rye bread crumbs, lightly toasted
40g smoked bacon, sliced on number 2 on a slicer
15g smoked bacon oil
Ground black pepper

For the béarnaise reduction
62g banana shallot (sliced)
125g white wine
125g white wine vinegar
15g tarragon (chopped)

For the béarnaise
50g reduction
3 medium slow-cooked free range eggs (62.3°C for 35 minutes)
2g salt
125g beurre noisette
0.38g Xantana

Cut the asparagus to your desired length, reserving the trimmings for the purée and 30g of spears per person for the asparagus salad.

For the asparagus purée
Blanch the trimmings in salted water (20g salt per litre of water) for 1-2 minutes depending upon the thickness of the spears. Refresh in iced water for another 1-2 minutes, drain and reserve.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add the asparagus and salt, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. Once they are tender add the parsley and water, cover again and cook for a further minute. Add the spinach and a pinch of pepper, and stir for a few seconds until the spinach has wilted.

Remove from the heat, spread out onto a tray and chill quickly to ensure it keeps its colour. Blend until smooth, check the seasoning and reserve.

For the smoked bacon dressing
Combine all of the ingredients and blend with a hand blender. Pass through a fine sieve, taste and reserve.

For the smoked bacon and rye breadcrumbs
Put the slices of smoked bacon on a heavy tray lined with parchment; place another sheet of parchment on top of it and cover with a heavy tray. Cook at 160°C for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden, remove the bacon from the tray and cool. Take 40g of the cooked bacon and finely chop to a fine crumb. Add this to the rye breadcrumbs and the bacon oil. Season with black pepper to taste.

Slow-cooked pheasant egg
Wipe the pheasant eggs with a clean cloth soaked in vinegar to remove any dirt. Place into a pre-heated water bath at 60.5°C and cook for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes remove from the water and place into iced water to chill.

For the béarnaise reduction
Place the shallot, white wine and white wine vinegar in a pan and reduce in volume by half. Once this has reduced remove from the heat and add the chopped tarragon, cover with cling film and leave to steep for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes pass through a fine sieve and reserve.

For the béarnaise
Place all of the ingredients into a blender except the Xantana and blend on high speed. Add the Xantana and continue to blend until the mixture is smooth and has thickened. Pass through a fine sieve and place into a whipper.

To serve
Have two pans with lightly seasoned water. Bring one pan to the boil and remove from the heat. Carefully crack the pheasant eggs into this pan of water and place back onto a medium heat for 90 seconds, to warm and set the white of the egg. Remove the eggs from the water and drain, season with rock salt and black pepper. Reheat the asparagus tips in the other pan of water, and drain once hot.

For each portion put warm asparagus purée into the centre of the dish, and add the hot asparagus spears. Then add the bacon crumbs with the egg on top of them. Dress the asparagus salad and arrange on the plate. Finish with béarnaise and a pinch of chopped tarragon.

Slow cooked pheasant egg
Slow cooked pheasant egg
Dave Watts, head chef, Cotswold House & Spa


Asparagus can be difficult to match as it sometimes gives a vegetal character to wine. But if you pair it with aromatic varieties that have natural herbal or grassy character, then the matching works. The obvious grape for me is Sauvignon Blanc. I very rarely recommend oak with this grape as it can easily overpower, but because of the bacon and rich texture of the poached egg, a slightly oaked Sauvignon Blanc will work extremely well. Look out for some of the top cuvées in Sancerre, from Alphonse Mellot or Vacheron. The other classic Sauvignon Blanc region is Marlborough in New Zealand - try an oaked cuvée like Te Ahu from Terravin.
Xavier Rousset is co-owner of Texture and 28°-50°, in London

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