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Asparagus Custards with Canadian Bacon
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Asparagus Custards with Canadian
Bacon and Maltaise Sauce

The Best of Gourmet, Volume 1

from the Editors of Gourmet, 1986,
Condé Nast Books, Random House


3 pounds asparagus, trimmed and peeled
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
6 thin slices (about 3 ounces) of Canadian bacon
Thin orange slices for garnish
1 1/2 cups Maltaise Sauce (recipe follows)

Cut off the asparagus tips, reserving the stems, and in a saucepan of
boiling salted water blanch them for 3 minutes. Drain the tips, refresh
them in a large bowl of ice water, and drain them again. The asparagus
tips may be blanched 1 day in advance and kept in a bowl covered and chilled.
In a saucepan combine the served asparagus stems, chopped coarse,
the onion, and the stock, bring the stock to a boil, and simmer the
mixture, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.
Cook the mixture, uncovered, over moderately high heat, stirring
occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until almost all the liquid is evap-
orated. (There will be about 2 cups of the mixture.)
In a food processor or blender purée the asparagus mixture until it
is smooth.
In a bowl stir together the purée, the milk, the eggs, the lemon juice,
and salt and pepper to taste, and divide the custard among 6 well-
buttered 1/2-cup ramekins. Line a baking pan just large enough to
hold the ramekins snugly with a kitchen towel for insulation. Arrange
the ramekins in the towel, add enough hot water to the pan to come
just halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and bake the custards in
the middle of a preheated 325-degree F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes,
or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove
the ramekins from the pan and let them cool for 10 minutes. The cus-
tards may be made 1 day in advance, kept in the ramekins, covered
and chilled, and reheated in a preheated 325-degree F. oven for 20
minutes, or until they are heated through.
Bake the bacon in one layer on a baking sheet in a preheated 325-
degree F. oven for 15 minutes, or until it is heated through. Run a
thin knife around the edge of each ramekin to loosen the custard, and
on a small plate, invert the custards onto the bacon (the bacon base
will make it easier to transfer the custards). Transfer the custards and
bacon with a metal spatula to a heated platter and garnish the top of
each custard with 2 small asparagus tips and a small triangular piece
of orange slice. Garnish the platter with the orange slices and the re-
maining asparagus tips and serve the custards with the Maltaise
Sauce. Serves 6.

Maltaise Sauce
(Orange-flavored Hollandaise)

1 orange (preferably a blood orange, available
seasonally at produce markets)
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter at room
temperature, cut into 12 pieces

Blanch the whole orange in a saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes,
drain it, and let it cool. Grate fine the rind and squeeze the orange to
extract 2 tablespoons of the juice, reserving the remaining juice for
another use.
In a small heavy stainless steel or enameled saucepan combine the
vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, the salt, and the pepper and reduce the
liquid over moderately high heat to about 2 tablespoons. Remove
the pan from the heat and add 1 tablespoon cold water. Add the
egg yolks, cook the mixture over very low heat, whisking, until it
is thick, and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, over low
heat, lifting the pan occasionally to cool the mixture and making
certain that each piece is melted before adding the next. Cook
the sauce, whisking, until it is thick and add the grated rind and
the juice.
The sauce may be kept warm for 1 hour, covered with a buttered
round of wax paper, set in a pan of warm water.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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