Asparagus with Perigord truffles (Serves 2)
12 large asparagus spears
90g unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 slice Poilâne bread (or good-quality rye bread)
50g Perigord truffles
fleur de sel salt (or coarse sea salt)
Carefully peel the asparagus, starting about 5cm from the tip and peeling right down to the base.
Lay the asparagus out on a chopping board. Wrap a piece of string loosely around the centre of the spears and secure the bundle with a knot. Continue to wind the string around the asparagus, all the way down the length of the stalks, as shown in the photograph.
Bring a tall pan of salted water to the boil. Stand the spears upright in the water, ensuring that the tips are not submerged; they cook faster than the stalks, so doing this helps prevent them from overcooking. After one to two minutes (depending on the size), tip the spears on their sides, so that the tips are also covered with water. Continue to cook for two minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.
As soon as the asparagus is ready, transfer to a bowl of iced water and leave to cool completely. This will ensure that the vegetable retains its vibrant green colour. Reserve some of the cooking water.
Slice the truffle into wafer-thin slivers, using a truffle slicer if possible. Finely chop three-quarters of the truffle.
Pour 150ml of the cooking water into a saucepan. Add 30g of butter to the pan and blend with a hand blender. Gradually add the rest of the butter, while continuing to blend, until the liquid is frothy and the fat is fully emulsified. Stir in the chopped truffle and taste to check the seasoning.
Put the asparagus in a clean saucepan, spoon over the butter sauce and place on the stove to warm through. Turn the asparagus over to coat it with sauce on both sides.
Toast the Poilâne bread, slice in half on the diagonal and top with the remaining truffle slices. Carefully arrange six asparagus spears in the centre of each plate serving and spoon a line of sauce down both sides. Serve with a slice of truffle-topped bread.
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