British asparagus, smoked egg and bacon, by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel

14 May 2010
British asparagus, smoked egg and bacon, by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel

This recipe by Madalene Bonvini-Hamel is designed to make the most of May's seasonal flavours. For more recipes using ingredients that reach their peak this month, see our feature Flavours of May.

(Serves four)

For the asparagus bavoir

• 50g chopped banana shallots
• 40g unsalted butter
• 250g chopped asparagus, both stalks and tips
• 300ml white chicken stock
• 10g pousse
• 100ml double cream
• 3g agar agar powder
• Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
• Juice of half a lemon

For the smoked quails' eggs

• 4 quails' eggs
• 40g unsalted butter
• 30g Panko Honey breadcrumbs
• 100g hay for smoking, soaked overnight in cold water

For the smoked bacon foam

• 100g smoked bacon
• 300ml water
• 10 coriander seeds
• 1 bay leaf
• 5 black peppercorns
• 25ml double cream
• 60ml full-fat milk
• 2.75g lecithin

For the asparagus salad

• 20 fine spears of British asparagus
• 2 fresh radishes
• 1 punnet of purple mustard cress
• Zest of one lemon
• 50ml olive oil
• Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
• 50ml fresh home-made mayonnaise
• Wild sumac for garnish


Asparagus bavoir Before starting, prepare the tray for the bavoir. Do not line with clingfilm as the agar will not set.

In a medium saucepan sauté the shallots in the butter until transparent but not coloured. Add the asparagus and season to taste. Cook for two minutes, remove from the heat and add the pousse.

In a separate saucepan, bring the stock to the boil and add the cream and agar, boil for two minutes.

Transfer both mixes to a Thermomix jug and blend, on speed 10, until smooth. Adjust seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.

Pour the bavoir mixture into the prepared tray and leave to cool at room temperature, once set transfer to the fridge until chilled.

Hay-smoked quails' eggs First make the crispy coating. In a small frying pan, melt the butter until light golden brown, mix in the panko and remove from the heat. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a baking tray lined with paper and dry under heat lamps. Grind the crumbs till fine.

Bring a water bath to 63°C. Place the quails' eggs inside and cook for 25 minutes, cool in ice cold water.

When ready to serve, smoke the quails' eggs to order.

Crack the shells of the quails' eggs and remove one side, drain the soaked hay and place in a deep oven tray. Place the tray over a flame and, once smoking, nestle the eggs in the hay, cover with foil and leave for four minutes.

Remove the eggs from the shells and roll in the golden crumbs.

Smoked bacon foam Bring the water and smoked bacon to the boil in a small saucepan, remove impurities and add the aromatics. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from the heat. Leave to infuse.

Pass the stock and discard the solids. Measure 125ml of smoked bacon stock into a small saucepan and add the cream, milk and lecithin, use a stick blender to foam.

Asparagus salad Prepare the asparagus by removing the woody end, cut the spears on an angle and finely slice the remainder of the stalks into 2mm lozenges. Blanch the spears in salted boiling water and refresh in iced water.

Mix the asparagus lozenges with the oil, lemon zest and season to taste five minutes prior to serving,

Wash and finely slice the radishes and prepare the cress.

To serve Cut the bavoir into small squares and place on the plate, arrange the blanched asparagus spears and the lozenges and position the egg on to of a heap of crumbs. Dot the home-made mayonnaise and garnish lightly with the red mustard cress and wild sumac. Arrange the sliced radishes and drop dollops of smoked bacon foam on the plate and serve immediately.

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