Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a starter
Asparagus season in Suffolk is a real treat. There is usually an abundance of it and the best sight is seeing how gardeners sell their freshly cut home grown asparagus at the roadside.
This starter is hugely popular at the British Larder Suffolk. The delicious pheasant eggs come from Richard who is running his egg business called “Eggsolicious”. Richard is great, he not only has pheasant eggs but also quail’s eggs and free-range hen’s eggs, which usually have double yolks so they are great value indeed!
Pheasant eggs are a bit tricky to boil and peel. My advice is to boil them in a pan of water with a dash of vinegar, then once they are cooked, drain then dunk them in iced water and hope for the best when peeling, as they are usually very fragile.
Ingredients & Method
For the asparagus mousse
- 50g banana shallots, chopped
- 40g unsalted butter
- 250g asparagus, chopped (both stalks and tips)
- 25g fresh spinach leaves
- 300ml white chicken stock
- 2 leaves of gelatine, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)
- 100ml double cream
- juice of ½ lemon
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the asparagus and pheasant egg salad
- 4 pheasant eggs
- 20 asparagus spears
- 50ml classic vinaigrette
- 2 handfuls of mixed seasonal salad leaves
First prepare the asparagus mousse. Sauté the shallots in the butter in a saucepan until transparent but not coloured. Add the asparagus and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the spinach.
In a separate saucepan, bring the stock to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the bloomed gelatine and stir until dissolved. Place the sautéed asparagus mixture and the stock in a blender and blend until smooth, then stir in the cream. Adjust the seasoning and add lemon juice to taste. Pour the mixture into a shallow plastic container, place the container over ice in the fridge and chill for about 3 hours or until completely set.
For the salad, cook the pheasant eggs in a pan of boiling salted water (with a dash of white wine vinegar added to the water, if you like) for 3 minutes. Drain, cool immediately in iced water and then carefully peel.
Cut the tips off the asparagus spears so they are about 7cm long and then cut the remainder of the stalks (that are good enough to eat) into slices. Cook the asparagus (both tips and sliced stalks) in a pan of rapidly boiling salted water for about 3–4 minutes or until tender but still al dente. Drain well and place in a bowl. Toss the freshly cooked asparagus in the vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, spoon two large quenelles (spoonfuls) of asparagus mousse onto each plate, place a pheasant egg on one quenelle and then season the egg with salt and pepper. Toss the salad leaves with the warm asparagus and arrange on the plates. Serve immediately.