Hollandaise, a rich butter sauce, is a classic accompaniment to boiled asparagus. The first thin green stems do cook well on a raised grill pan or may be roasted. Grilling is very brief, turning the asparagus with tongs until they wilt and acquire the distinctive dark striping from the red hot grill ridges.
Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/ gas 9. Select a roasting tray which will just hold the asparagus in a single layer. Trim the asparagus.
Start making the hollandaise: bring a pan of water to a simmer. Have ready a bowl which can sit over the water.
Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat. Put the shallots in another saucepan with the pepper, lemon juice and vinegar. Boil down to about
To cook the asparagus, put
Towards the end of the asparagus cooking time, finish the hollandaise sauce: strain the shallot reduction through a fine sieve into the food processor. Add the egg yolks and process for a few seconds to combine. Season with salt and pepper then, with the motor at full speed, pour the butter in through the feeder tube in a thin stream.
Pour into the bowl set over hot water and whisk until it thickens. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve the roast asparagus on warmed plates, offering the hollandaise in a sauceboat at the table.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.