Perfect Asparagus with Perfect Hollandaise Sauce
Just follow these easy directions, and I guarantee you will have perfect asparagus. Nothing more, nothing less—an excellent first course with vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce, or an accompaniment for any main dish you like.
YIELD: 4 to 6 servings
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons plus ½ teaspoon salt, divided
2 bunches asparagus
2 tablespoons salted butter
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
In a medium stockpot over high heat, bring the water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons of the salt. With a vegetable peeler, lightly peel half the asparagus stems on all four sides.
Prepare an ice bath: In a large bowl, combine 1 cup cold water and 2 cups ice cubes. Drop the asparagus into the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds exactly.
Remove the asparagus and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking process and then drain them in a colander.
Note: If you plan on serving the asparagus with the Hollandaise Sauce, skip this step—Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Place the asparagus on a serving platter, pour the butter over the asparagus, and serve.
Perfect Hollandaise Sauce
YIELD: 1 cup
Here’s my interpretation of what very well may be the best of all classic sauces. This sauce, sadly, is one that is rare these days. I grew up on it and I truly miss it. In our house, hollandaise sauce made everything better: asparagus, broccoli, poached salmon, even sautéed mushrooms and toast in the morning. This recipe is crazy easy, despite what people say. If you follow these directions, you can do it, just be sure to keep whisking the sauce over low heat so that the butter and eggs become fully emulsified, not scrambled.
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch ground white pepper
8 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Prepare a double boiler over medium heat.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, water, salt, and pepper. Beat them with a whisk until they are very thick and sticky. This may also be done in an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Pour the eggs into the double boiler and turn the heat down to low.
In a heavy skillet, over a high heat, melt the butter. When it is fully melted and bubbling, add it slowly in droplets to the egg yolk mixture, whisking it constantly over very low heat until an emulsion forms. Do not add the butter too quickly, and make sure the heat is not too high, or you will have scrambled eggs instead of hollandaise sauce.
Stir in the lemon juice and serve the sauce immediately.