I’ve known my friend John for as long as I can remember. We first met at Vancouver Film School in the late nineties and little did I know that we’d a forge a strong friendship lasting nearly twenty years so far. I consider him like a brother; the type of guy I can confide in knowing there wouldn’t be an ounce of judgement.
Endless, over-worked nights fueled by the typical ramen, black coffee, and power bars have indelibly been etched in my mind, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
We’ve managed to cross paths in many cities over the years and somehow have now both ended up planting roots in Portland, Oregon. We see each other often, of course, and recently he came by for a little backyard grilling.
John has a fairly sophisticated palate and can most certainly throw down in the kitchen, but he’s also a man who likes a dark, hoppy beer with a perfectly grilled and marbled steak. Zara and I had been running errands for most of that day and needed to make something quick and delicious for John’s visit, but enough to satisfy his standards. And since the weather has been extremely favorable, what better way to enjoy each other’s time by kicking back a few while cooking outside in the warm summer breeze.
The menu was simple: a few decent-sized cuts of rib eye, marinated and grilled, along with some sausage and grilled zucchini that Zara made into a salad. The hero that night were the asparagus topped with a sauce gribiche, a classic mayonnaise-based concoction with chopped hard boiled eggs, capers, cornichons, and herbs.
- 20 asparagus spears, grilled
- 4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- ½ cup of Mayonnaise. For this recipe I used Vegenaise
- Fleur de sel
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ tbsp white wine or white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp minced capers
- 2 tbsp minced cornichons or pickles
- 1 tbsp of fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 1 tbsp of chives, minced
I took the liberty of adapting this sauce from a Bertrand Grébaut’s recipe from Septime in Paris as we didn’t make our mayonnaise from scratch, but for the most part it should be relatively close to the original.
This recipe usually calls for a classic home-made mayonnaise, but since we’ve been trying to eat healthier as of late, we opted for Vegenaise instead. With that said, you can also whisk in some aioli (if you like garlic) or give the raw egg-free Portuguese milk mayonnaise a try for a fluffier consistency.
The herbs come down to your own preference and although traditionally speaking this sauce is made with chervil (reminiscent of a milder parsley), you can also use parsley, tarragon and in my case chives as we had plenty of that growing in our garden. But, I wouldn’t really deviate from these herbs as they are a great compliment for this particular type of sauce.
Once the eggs are boiled, peel and separate the yolks from the white part. Chop the white egg halves coarsely into tiny cubes.
Chop up the cornichons, the capers and mince the herbs fairly finely.
Since I used these beautifully brined Sicilian salted capers I did not add any salt into the mix given their highly concentrated sodium level. Also, while this recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of regular capers, I added a bit less than that to avoid over salting the sauce; however, if you are using regular capers, have at it.
Add all ingredients into a bowl except for the eggs and and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. As the last step, add the chopped eggs and mix with the sauce for a minute.
Arrange the asparagus spears on your plates and top each bundle with a generous servings of the sauce. Garnish with some finely chopped herbs and pass it around.
The hot-to-cold contrast is pretty great, in reality this sauce tastes like a really fancy egg salad and is incredibly versatile. Add it to boiled beets, poached chicken or fish. Lean back and watch your guests enjoy.