I’ve got a serious jones for spring. I’d do almost anything for it to be here, drive down a dark alley, pawn my jewelry, lie to my mama. But it’s not even the middle of March yet. And in Colorado, our snowiest month usually, a blizzard is a lot closer than spring. We’ve had quite a few lovely days, but in March it’s a wary sort of enjoyment. We smile and say “Isn’t it great, so warm!” while our eyes are searching the sky for the slightest hint of a snow cloud. You have to be ready for anything in March here, but the only thing I’m ready for is spring. So much so that I even bought a bunch of winter asparagus all the while pretending that it was the sweet, tender green of the first shoots of the season. I brought them home, stuck them in water, and let them hang out on the counter while I pondered the best way to fool myself, I mean enjoy them. I finally decided on a quickly blanched, smothered in Sauce Gribiche presentation. Now for those of you that don’t know what Sauce Gribiche is, it’s basically a sauce made out of hard-cooked eggs, capers, cornichons, shallots, some sort of acid, herbs and oil. There are those in the more mayonnaise camp, emulsifying the yolk, oil, and adding a bit of mustard, then adding the rest. And there are those in the more vinaigrette camp. Both ways are wonderful, but today I’m on the vinaigrette side. I wanted a tart, acidic partner to the asparagus. So I went with a riff on the Chez Panisse recipe. I mean seriously, guys, you just can’t go wrong with anything from Chez Panisse! I still have the menu from the first dinner I had there, and I remember that I tried so hard to be calm but I strongly had to resist the urge to jump up and shout “Holy Mother of Elvis Aaron Presley people, this is Chez Panisse”! But I didn’t, and I haven’t yet, and I promise I won’t. But every time we go, I’m immediately in the happy place.
I made a few adjustments to the recipe. I added more lemon juice, I cut the oil a bit, and I only used parsely as that was all I had. I’m giving you the recipe as written from the Chez Panisse cookbook. Make adjustments as you see fit, taste, taste, taste! And while it makes a pretty presentation to lay them on a plate and arrange the sauce over it, I suggest that you do so, take a good look at it, and then do what I do. Cut them up in small pieces, mix it all together, and spoon it up, making sure to wipe the plate clean with a slice of bread.
1 large egg
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, or to taste
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. finely chopped chervil
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced chives
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
1 Tbsp. capers, rinsed and finely chopped
3 cornichons, finely chopped
¾ cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Put the egg in a small saucepan, and cover with cold water. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and set a timer for 12 minutes. When the timer goes off, drain away the hot water and rinse the egg under cold water until it is thoroughly cool.
Meanwhile, combine the shallot and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside to macerate while you prepare the rest of the sauce.
Combine the parsley, chervil, chives, lemon zest, capers, cornichons, and olive oil in a small bowl. Whisk well. Peel the egg, and then finely chop the yolk and dice the white. Add the egg to the bowl. Add the lemon juice, shallots, and a good pinch of salt, and whisk well. Taste, and adjust with more lemon juice and salt, if needed.