Boiled eggs and soldiers are firm favourites in this house. And at this time of year the best soldiers have to be asparagus, with the rich abundant yolks of goose eggs perfect for dipping.
Not the most patient of cooks when it comes to fiddly sauces, I have to admit to not being a hollandaise expert. So I love the idea from Alex at Dale Cottage Diaries idea that if you add a drop of vinegar to the egg yolk of a soft boiled egg, it makes an easy hollandaise substitute.
I was also inspired by Rusty Pig at Ottery St Mary when we visited Mazzard Farm recently. Rusty Pig were cooking a Saturday night feast for a group of partying farmers when I popped in. The feast started with an ‘edible table’ where everyone could tuck into a spread of proscuitto style ham (from free-range pigs reared at local smallholdings), goose eggs and asparagus.
We don’t have geese, but are lucky to have a couple of great farmshops just down the hill with us. The goose egg season is short and obviously asparagus isn’t around for long too. So I was very excited that it coincided with our air-dried ham being ready too.
The air-dried ham from our pigs had been hanging in a cage in our open woodshed – protected from the worst of the elements (and inquisitive animals) but with wind able to dry it. We were still nervous when we unwrapped it from its muslin, wondering if we had a foodie treat or a mouldy mess on our hands. Amazingly it was the former.
It’s quite strong tasting, pretty salty and best savoured in thin slivers. I’ve added it sparingly to risottos, frittata with goats cheese and it’s adding a lot of flavour to countless meals.
The saltiness goes perfectly with fresh asparagus and the richness of egg yolks. This isn’t a recipe, more of an idea. But I boil goose eggs for about 7 minutes for a nicely runny yolk. The asparagus is steamed for a few minutes and everyone can help themselves – wrapping slivers of air-dried ham around the asparagus if they like and dipping the ‘soldier’ into an egg. It’s worth varying it with purple sprouted broccoli dipped in soft boiled eggs too. All you need is some good bread and butter and this is such an easy but lovely treat of a supper.