A tasty, seasonal dish of perfectly cooked asparagus served with a homemade hollandaise sauce and slices of crisp pancetta.
"Be careful not to overcook the asparagus - it should still have a little bite when served!"
Break the asparagus to remove the tough stem and then peel the remaining stalk. Keep the tip intact.
Clarify the butter: melt in a saucepan over a low heat to allow the milk solids to separate from the fat. Skim off any foam that comes to the surface and then pour the clear clarified butter into a container, leaving the milk solids in the pan.
Make the hollandaise sauce: peel and finely chop the shallot and the garlic. Place in a saucepan with the white wine and the herbs. Reduce over a medium heat and reduce until you have approximately 3 tbsps worth of liquid. Pass through a fine sieve to obtain the liquid.
Place the egg yolks in a bowl, add the white wine reduction and season with salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk vigorously until you have a fluffy sabayon. Cook until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage. Remove from the heat and whisk in the clarified butter a little at a time. Check the seasoning and add a couple of drops of lemon juice. Keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 200'c.
Lie the pancetta slices on a lined baking tray and then cover with a second sheet of baking parchment. Place a second baking tray on top and transfer to the oven to cook for 10 minutes. Remove when golden brown and allow the pancetta to cool between both baking sheets.
To poach the eggs: Bring the water and white wine vinegar to the boil. Reduce the heat so as the water is simmering. Break the eggs into cups and then pour into the simmering water. With a slotted spoon lift the egg so as it dos not sit at the bottom of the pan and cook for 3 minutes.
At the same time, bring a another large saucepan of salted water to the boil and then add the peeled asparagus. Blanch for 2-4 minutes until the asparagus is tender but still has a bit of crunch in the centre.
Season the asparagus with fleur de sel and serve the on a large plate with a poached egg on top. Coat the egg with the hollandaise sauce and finish the dish with a slice of crisp pancetta.