Asperges en Sauce Mousseline

Asparagus with Mousseline Sauce

In a warm sleepy village where two small cats sitting at the top of a flight of stone steps narrowed their eyes at us, we discovered a gem of a restaurant – small, quiet and good. It was May, there was lily of the valley on the table and we had our first asparagus of the season. And it was delightful with this sauce. But to my mind, French white-stemmed asparagus lacks the flavour of the green spears we grow here. Just occasionally you meet a Frenchman who admits it. And I notice that some growers in the south are starting to plant the green variety.

Ingredients

  • 680 g( lb) fresh asparagus
  • salt

Sauce Mousseline

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, ideally a herb vinegar like tarragon or rosemary
  • salt, ground white or green pepper
  • 225 g(8 oz) butter
  • juice of a small lemon
  • 100 ml( fl oz) crème fraîche or whipped cream

Method

Trim the end of each stick of asparagus. In France you may need to scrape away the skin on the lower end of the stalks. If you grow your own and cut it young this should not be necessary.

Cook the asparagus in salted water, stalks down, with a hood of foil over the spears so that they cook in the steam. Home-grown asparagus takes 6–12 minutes depending on the size. Bought asparagus which has dried out a little may need up to 20 minutes. Test the end of a stalk with the point of a knife now and again but do not overcook. Drain the asparagus and keep it hot, wrapped in a cloth while you make the sauce.

Whisk together the egg yolks with the vinegar and a little salt and pepper in a bowl over hot water. Add the butter in small lumps, whisking in each addition. The butter should soften but not melt. If the bowl gets too hot stand it in a bowl of iced water to cool and then replace over the hot water. Continue whisking the sauce, which should mount and thicken like a mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce.

Remove the bowl from the heat and gradually whisk in sufficient lemon juice to sharpen the flavour agreeably. Fold in the cream, check the seasoning and serve with the asparagus.

Loading
Loading
Loading