A recipe for green asparagus with pheasant egg, hazelnut, curd mousse and pickled kohlrabi
At Gravetye Manor in Sussex, the bountiful kitchen garden provides much of the seasonal produce served in the Michelin-starred Dining Room. May is prime asparagus season, so we asked the hotel’s Head Gardener, Tom Coward, how he prepares the vegetable for use in the restaurant’s delicious Green Asparagus dish, featured below.
“Asparagus is quite unique when it is really fresh and is therefore extra special from the garden. The young shoots are growing so fast and once a spear has been cut it continues respiring, using up its natural sweetness, resulting in an old spear having a slightly starch taste. Because freshness is so important, we crop every day just before lunch, so that the spears we serve are never more than a few hours old.
By using early and late season varieties we can get about ten weeks cropping from our beds, before we need to leave the plants alone to recover. Cutting the new shoots all spring can take a lot from the plants, so at this point it is important to thank them with good irrigation, weeding and fertiliser. As they are maritime plants, we find that they appreciate seaweed fertiliser and salting the bed lightly can also help. The asparagus is well adapted to deal with the salt, which also makes the weeds and slugs feel unwelcome.”
Whether you’re growing your own or buying in, this asparagus recipe is the perfect springtime showstopper.
20ml White wine vinegar
12 Stems of green asparagus
50g Cow’s curd
100ml Double cream
20ml Yuzu juice (or substitute for lemon)
20ml Lemon juice
10ml Kalamansi juice (or substitute for lime)
10ml Lime juice
2g Grated fresh ginger
3g Agar Agar
1 Small clove garlic
Zest of half a lemon
8 Parsley leaves
40ml Olive oil
4 Pheasant eggs
Brassica flowers (pak choi, kale, rapeseed, for example)
50g Nibbed hazelnuts
50g Cheddar cheese
Pickled kohlrabi discs
Peel the kohlrabi, then slice very thinly into 12 discs. Heat together 20ml white wine vinegar, 20g sugar and 60ml water. Cool the liquid and add the slices, leave for at least 1 hour to pickle.
Use the rest of the sliced kohlrabi and cut into very fine strands. Add these to cold water to firm up.
Peel the base of 12 fresh stems of green asparagus and trim off the base. Blanch in salted boiling water for 2 minutes, then refresh in cold water, drain and cut each spear into 2 pieces.
Smoked local cow’s curd mousse
Cold smoke 50g of curd, then pass through a fine sieve. Add 100ml of double cream and a pinch of salt and whisk until a consistent and even texture is achieved. Add to a piping bag and leave for at least 30 minutes before piping.
Combine 20ml yuzu juice, 20ml lemon juice, 10ml kalamansi juice, 10ml lime juice, 30g sugar, 80ml water and a small amount of grated fresh ginger. Heat this in a pan until boiling, then add 3g of Agar Agar and whisk until fully dissolved. Pour out onto a tray to set, then puree in a small blender until smooth, pass through a fine conical sieve and add to a squeezy bottle.
Finely microplane half a clove of garlic and half the zest of an unwaxed lemon into a small bowl. Finely chop 8 leaves of parsley (to the size of glitter) and add with enough olive oil to make a dressing.
Slow cooked pheasant egg
Cook the pheasant eggs at 63 degrees C for 1 hour.
Add 80ml of water, 40g sugar, 40g glucose and 100g of whole skinless hazelnuts to a pan and bring to the boil. Heat until the sugary liquid has a sauce like consistency, then sieve the hazelnuts, discarding the liquid, and fry at 180 degrees for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Take the nuts out of the fryer, and while still hot sprinkle with some Maldon salt and move around so that they do not end up sticking together.
Hazelnut and cheese crisp
Blend 50g of grated good cheddar cheese with 50g of nibbed hazelnuts for 30 seconds or until the mixture sticks together. Spread this out between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper and flatten into a sheet about 3mm thick using a rolling pin. Remove the top layer of paper and bake in the oven at 170 degrees C for 25 minutes, or until the mixture becomes golden brown. Cool and break into 12 pieces.
Wash and pick
To plate up:
Dress the asparagus with a little gremolata and some Maldon salt. Add 6 pieces to each plate. Fold the pickled kohlrabi discs in half twice, then pipe full with the curd and add three to each plate. Place the kohlrabi shreds onto a draining cloth, form a small amount in your hand, then add to the centre of the plate. Add some dots of the citrus gel and 4 or 5 glazed hazelnuts. Break open the pheasant egg, sprinkle with little Maldon salt, then place onto the kohlrabi nest. Drizzle a little gremolata around the plate. Add the hazelnut and cheese crisps and the brassica flowers and serve.
Recipe kindly provided by George Blogg, Executive Chef at Gravetye Manor.