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Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4 as a starter

Ever since the start of my career I’d been making hollandais­e sauce in exactly the same way – basically simmering roughly chopped shallot in vinegar with tarragon stalks and peppercorn­s, then straining the liquid and throwing away the bits. That was until I discovered a new approach, thanks to chef Neil Borthwick. I was doing a barbecue at a friend’s house in Cornwall, during the Padstow Food Festival, and Neil made the Béarnaise sauce (a spin-off of hollandais­e). Instead of roughly chopping the shallots to eventually be discarded, he finely chopped them and left them in the sauce. Genius, and I’ve made hollandais­e and Béarnaise like this ever since.


– 50ml cider vinegar

– 1 large shallot, finely


– 1 bay leaf

– 200g unsalted butter – 2 medium egg yolks – 500g asparagus,

woody ends removed


First make the hollandais­e. Place the vinegar, shallot and bay leaf in a saucepan with 40ml water and simmer for a few minutes until there is no more than a dessertspo­onful of liquid left, then leave to cool and remove the bay leaf.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool a little, then pour off the pure, golden butter where it has separated from the whey (the paler froth); discard the whey. This helps to keep the sauce thick.

Put the egg yolks into a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (or in a double boiler if you have one) along with half of the reduced vinegar and shallot and a little salt and pepper. Whisk over the simmering water until the mixture begins to thicken and becomes a little frothy, then slowly trickle in the butter, whisking continuous­ly – an electric hand whisk will help. If the butter is added too quickly the sauce will separate

When you have added two-thirds of the butter, taste the sauce and add a little more, or all, of the remaining vinegar reduction. Then add the rest of the butter. The sauce should not be too vinegary, but it should just cut through the oiliness of the butter. Season, cover the surface with cling film and leave in a warm, not hot, place until needed.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the asparagus for 2-3 minutes until tender then drain. Arrange the asparagus, whole or cut in half if you wish, on a serving plate or fondue dish with the sauce in a bowl for dipping.

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