Royale of Asparagus with Speck Dressing

Elegant and clear you've spent the time, especially if you mention the 30 minutes of steaming!
Elegant and clear you’ve spent the time, especially if you mention the 30 minutes of steaming!

Serves: 4

This is a Guillaume Brahimi recipe and I think it is rather impressive.

It take a bit of time and his instruction to peel the asparagus (!!!) is too far, though it looks and tastes the part if served as an amuse-bouche; in fact, it looks really quite elegant.

I have a few recipes like this where people really appreciate the cut above home cooking and if you are cooking to impress, you really should give this a go.


20 spears (2 ½ bunches) asparagus
100gm butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic glove, thinly sliced
500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
200ml pouring cream

Speck Dressing

50ml extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
¼ long red chilli, finely chopped
150gm speck, cut into 5cm dice
100ml chicken stock
25ml sherry vinegar


  1. Trim (and peel! – no, do not peel) 8 asparagus tips and set aside. Slice remaining asparagus into thin rounds, discarding the woody ends.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally until tender though not coloured; a few minutes.
  3. Add the sliced asparagus and stir until the asparagus starts to soften (2 minutes) and then add stock, season to taste and simmer until asparagus is tender; around 4 – 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and strain, reserving the cooking liquor. Blend asparagus in a blender until smooth. Add a small amount of cooking liquor if necessary in order to form a smooth puree. Pass puree through a fine sieve and refrigerate until chilled; 220ml is required for the recipe.
  5. Whisk eggs, yolks and clear and reserved 200ml asparagus puree in a bowl to combine and season. Pass through a fine sieve. Pour 125ml into four 185ml heatproof bowls (or ramekins) and cover with plastic wrap. Steam in a steam oven (90c) or steam very gently in a steamer basket placed over a saucepan of simmering water and steam until just set (25 – 30 minutes).
  6. Remove and cool to room temperature or refrigerate until needed.
  7. Blanch asparagus tips in boiling water and then refresh.
  8. For speck dressing, heat a saucepan over medium heat, add 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil, then shallots and chilli and stir occasionally until tender though not coloured. Add speck and stir until light golden brown; around 5 – 6 minutes, then add chicken stock and sherry vinegar and reduce by half (3 – 4 minutes). Add remaining olive oil and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
  9. To serve, bring asparagus custards to room temperature (if chilled), then spoon the speck dressing on top, garnish each with 2 asparagus tips and finish with a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper to taste.

Roger Verge’s Rib of Beef with Shallots and Vinegar

Serves 2

My parents cooked this for Nat and me a few months back, remarking that it was simply the finest beef dish around.

And it is.

Its genius is in its simplicity and the beauty of its raw presentation; a cut of rare, primal meat on the bone, the butter and shallots heaped on top, some potato gratin and maybe some sautéed beans or asparagus or Brussel sprouts. This dish talks to why Roger Verge was such a genius chef.

This is a dish – commensurate with the relative cost of the cut of beef as well as the generally wonderful occasion that always surrounds itself around standing rib eye – that demands a very good bottle of red and a doubling of the dish to ensure that there are at least four of you to enjoy it.

I have cooked this for six people and it really is just a matter of multiplying the ingredients as need be.

A worthy note, whilst Haverick Meats (or Vics, or some other good wholesaler) will always be the pick for the finest standing rib eye (and the aged, standing rib eye at Haverick Meats is extraordinary: served at Cut, Chophouse and the finest steak restaurants in Sydney), if you can’t make it there or to another quality butcher, Woolworths now sells rib eye. It is vacuum sealed, two servings per bag and it really quite good and of course, really quite convenient.

Do not stop, do not go to jail, collect $200 and cook this, this weekend.


1 rib of beef weighing 800gm – 1000gm (essentially, a two bone thick cut), cut into individual portions (i.e. one bone per person)
3 finely chopped shallots
2 tbs (red) wine vinegar
2 tbs chopped parsley
70g butter
Salt and pepper


  1. Season the beef with the salt and pepper and rub in the seasoning with the tips of your fingers.
  2. Heat a generous tablespoon of the butter in a frying-pan and when it begins to foam, put in the beef. Lower the heat so that the beef does not acquire a hard crust and cook for 5 – 10 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the meat and how well done you want it; rare to medium-rare I hope, something you should be able to determine by pressing down on the meat in the traditional method.
  3. Remove the meat and keep it hot. To do this, put it on an upturned plate inside a larger one and cover the whole thing with an upturned bowl. This allows the meat to rest without drowning in its own juices, which would spoil the texture.
  4. Pour away the cooking butter and replace it with the remaining butter, together with the chopped shallots. Return to a medium heat and allow to soften for 5 minutes without allowing the shallots to brown. Add the wine vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Season with a few grinds of pepper and salt as necessary. Add the chopped parsley and the juices which have run out of the meat. Mix well and pour into a sauceboat, ensuring it remains hot.
  5. Cut the beef in thick slices, giving each person and equal serving of lean and fat. Serve very hot, accompanied by the shallot sauce.

For what it is worth, Mr Verge goes on to explain that the meat really doesn’t need much more than a ‘salad of curly endive seasoned with a mustardy vinaigrette’. In fact, in his recipe, he ‘promises you splendid meal’ if the ‘wine is cool and fresh’.

No doubt, though I served this with sautéed asparagus and scalloped potatoes (potatoes and cream) and we drank red wine.

And with my approach, I also, can promise a splendid meal and afternoon.