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
Trim (and peel! – no, do not peel) 8 asparagus tips and set aside. Slice remaining asparagus into thin rounds, discarding the woody ends.
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally until tender though not coloured; a few minutes.
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.
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.
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).
Remove and cool to room temperature or refrigerate until needed.
Blanch asparagus tips in boiling water and then refresh.
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.
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.