Asparagus With Poached Quails Eggs, Black Pudding, Broad Bean Puree And Hollandaise Sauce

I was reading a great post over on I Can Has Cook about the pairing of broad beans with black pudding which is something that would never occurred to me and it gave me the idea for this recipe. Moreover, I’d never tasted the puddings made by Jack McCarthy mentioned so it was a good excuse to go down to Sheridans and get some; my dad and I occasionally make black pudding ourselves so I’m pretty hard to please but this was outstanding with an excellent texture (mostly likely down to using unfrozen blood) and clever spicing.

I’ve also been on a bit of a hollandaise/bearnaise binge of late after discovering a ridiculously easy way of making it from reading Harold McGee where you basically put all the ingredients into a cold pan, stick it on a low heat and start whisking. It sounds like it shouldn’t work but it does and you’ll have a sauce in less than five minutes; just make sure to not let the pan get too hot and if it looks like its about split take it off the heat and whisk like mad.

Hollandaise goes well with both asparagus and eggs and those two ingredients themselves combine excellently but the specific choice of quail eggs was as much informed by presentation as flavour: I think they look really nice on the plate but they can be hard to prepare especially if you’ve not done so before. The trick I found was to get a serrated bread knife and gently tap on the egg to break through the shell whilst ensuring not to pierce the yolk, I then carefully emptied the contents into a shot glass. The reason for using the glass is because it’s much easier to slide the egg into the water for poaching as I didn’t have much success when breaking them directly into the pan.

As it would have been pretty much impossible to cook the twelve eggs and prepare everything else at the same time what I did was cook them three quarters of the way through the night before and put them in an icebath which I stored in the fridge overnight: when needed I reheated the lot in one go just as I was about to serve up. Alternatively, you could save all the messing about and use normal chicken eggs!

Serves: 4

24 thin spears of asparagus
100g black pudding cut into dice
12 quails eggs

For the broad bean puree:
100g podded broan beans
25ml olive oil
5ml lemon juice

For the hollandaise sauce:
60g chilled butter diced
2.5ml lemon juice
1 egg yolk


  1. Fry the black pudding in some butter until crispy, set aside and keep warm.
  2. For the quail eggs, bring a pot of water to the boil and lower the heat so the water is not bubbling anymore.
  3. Crack a quails egg into a shot glass and gently slide it into the water.
  4. Cook for 45-60 seconds (until the white has just set) and remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of iced water. Repeat for the rest of the eggs.
  5. When the eggs are required, bring a pot of water to a simmer and drop the eggs in for 15-30 seconds to finish cooking them.
  6. For the broad bean puree, boil the beans in salted water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold iced water.
  7. Put the beans, olive oil and half the lemon juice into a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Add some salt and more lemon juice to taste.
  8. When required, reheat the puree gently in a small sauce pan, possibly adding some water if it needs to be loosened up a bit.
  9. For the hollandaise sauce, add the lemon juice, butter and egg yolk to a cold pan and put over the lowest heat on your cooker.
  10. Keep whisking the ingredients until the sauce starts to thicken, continue to cook until it clings to the whisk and coats the back of a spoon. (You may want to adjust the seasoning or lemon when it’s done.)
  11. Trim the asparagus spears on the diagonal so that you have roughly 2cm long tips.
  12. Boil in salted water for 1-2 minutes.
  13. To plate, place the asparagus in three groups of two with each group in an X shape. Place a small pool of the puree a the bottom of each X and sit a quail egg in each one. Scatter the pudding above and below the asparagus and then drizzle the sauce over the asparagus and eggs.

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