Duck eggs with asparagus soldiers
This is proper, comforting grown-up nursery food and it has featured regularly on the seasonal menus in my restaurants for many years now.
I'm not sure if this was a new creation when I started doing it about 10 years ago but I've seen this dish since on various menus around the country in many different forms – but I much prefer this pure and simple version.
500g medium to thick asparagus
4 duck eggs
To prepare the asparagus, cut or break off the woody ends. Peel the stalks with a fine swivel vegetable peeler, starting about 5cm (2in) down from the tips. Set aside. Carefully lower the eggs into a pan of boiling water and boil for 6 minutes for duck eggs (or 4-5 minutes for ordinary eggs). Meanwhile, add the asparagus to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender.
Cut the tops from the eggs and sit the eggs in egg cups. Drain the asparagus and arrange in bundles next to the eggs, for dipping.
Serve with a little pile of Maldon sea salt.
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