I can’t get enough of asparagus in the spring, it’s one of my favorite vegetables and I try to use it a lot because of the shortish season. It just makes me happy because I know spring is really here. Plain old sautéed/steamed asparagus can get kind of boring though so last week I browsed through a few cookbooks looking for ideas. I saw a savory custard recipe in Classico e Moderno which caught my eye, and part of the description said asparagus was commonly added. Just the kind of idea I was looking for to tinker with.
Of course, if you’ve been following this blog you know what I’m going to say next: this was an easy experiment because you know the 2 parts liquid:1 part egg custard ratio! One option given in Ruhlman’s Ratio is to blanche the asparagus then puree it with some milk or cream, then strain so you have asparagus flavored custard. Not bad but I like to eat actual asparagus so I decided to simply add chopped asparagus to the custard. And since lemon goes well with asparagus (think hollandaise sauce) I incorporated some lemon zest as well.
Turned out very delicious. The custard is creamy and the lemon zest comes through. One note however, I can see the benefit of making an asparagus ‘infused’ custard instead of one with pieces of asparagus, mostly because the asparagus pieces float, so they end up close to the top of the custard (or bottom if you invert the custard onto a plate). Of course, I feel I went a little light on the asparagus so an easy fix would be to just add more to the custard. I was trying to keep things simple and clean but one addition which would no doubt make this recipe even tastier is some grated parmigiano-reggiano. Don’t worry, this’ll be perfected by Easter. And don’t forget, a savory custard is a great canvas for using some truffle salt.
This custard is especially versatile. You really wouldn’t be out of place serving it as an appetizer, a side dish with dinner, brunch with a salad, or even as a breakfast dish with some bacon or sausage. Do I need to say this would be a great idea for Easter brunch?
Asparagus Lemon Custard (makes 6 small 4 oz ramekins or 2 large 12 oz (pictured above))
- ¾-1 C chopped/sliced asparagus, with tips reserved
- Lemon zest from 1 lemon
- 2 C milk/cream
- 4 large eggs + 1 yolk (needs to be half of the milk in oz. most large eggs are just a teeny bit below 2 oz. I have found adding an extra yolk will usually make up the difference)
- ½ tsp Salt (do try to use truffle salt)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare the water bath by placing the ramekins into a baking dish then fill the baking dish with water, enough to cover ¾ up the side of the ramekins. Take the ramekins out of the water bath and place the baking dish into the pre-heating oven.
Whisk the eggs and milk together in a large bowl until you have a smooth mixture. Blend in the asparagus and lemon zest.
Pour the custard into the ramekins, place in the water bath, and cook for 40 mins or until the custard is set. A larger ramekin will obviously take longer. I used a 12 oz ramekin for one custard and it took about 60 mins, the smaller ones took about 40.
You can present them in the ramekins or invert onto a plate as a free-standing custard (maybe on a bed of greens?) I think they are best served warm but you can let them cool and serve cold as well. Maybe even add some hollandaise for a truly decadent custard!