In Germany, everyone goes crazy for white asparagus with Sauce Hollandaise. It’s a wonderful dish with a very rich taste. But there’s something much better than Sauce Hollandaise for asparagus: White Asparagus with cream sauce.
The simple cream sauce in this recipe is so much more flavorful and complex than Sauce Hollandaise could ever be. It’s lighter, creamier, and there’s no risk for it to separate.
It’s loaded with natural asparagus flavor because it is based on a flavorful asparagus broth made from the peel and trimmings of white asparagus.
It’s genius because this dish combines two dishes in one: Steamed/ Boiled asparagus and cream of asparagus soup. Yes, this sauce tastes very similar to my cream of asparagus soup.
The difference is that this sauce contains no white wine but instead relies on lemon juice as the sole source of acidity. Also, for a sauce, I always enrich it at the end with an egg yolk. That gives it a much silkier mouthfeel. However, please don’t boil the sauce vigorously after this step so that the egg yolk doesn’t curdle.
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How to cook the asparagus to go with your cream sauce
The asparagus is blanched in saltwater until tender. It should retain a small bite so that it has a buttery, almost meaty texture. You could, of course, also steam it if you prefer steamed over boiled asparagus. But please don’t use a dry cooking method like baking. That dries out the asparagus and ruins the texture.
In Southern Germany, it’s very common to serve this dish with savory torn pancakes (‘Kratzete’, ‘Eierhaber’, ‘Schmarrn’). I will post my recipe for this Swabian classic in the future. It’s also great with thin German-style pancakes or boiled potatoes (for the Northern Germans).
The sprinkling of chervil leaves on top is optional. Don’t worry if you can’t source them. I think their anise flavor nicely complements the dish. Chives would also complement this dish nicely if you like herbs in your food as much as I do.
White Asparagus with Cream Sauce (‘Spargel mit heller Soße’)
Add your asparagus peel and trimmings into a saucepan and cover with about 3 cups of water so that they are fully submerged. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the asparagus broth for 15-20 minutes. Strain and set aside.
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and sweat the butter-flour mixture (‘roux’) for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to smell nutty but is still pale in color. Then, whisk in the asparagus broth, bit by bit, to prevent the sauce from turning lumpy. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and let the sauce simmer over the lowest possible heat for at least 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
Cook the asparagus:
While the sauce simmers, cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. It should be tender throughout but still retain a little bite. The texture of properly cooked asparagus is almost meat-like with a buttery-soft asparagus tip.
Finish the sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Take the sauce off the heat and whisk in the cream mixture. Don’t bring it up to a boil again as the egg might curdle otherwise. Season the sauce to taste with lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt. If the sauce is too thick or thin to your liking you can adjust the texture by either adding more liquid or by thickening the sauce slightly more with cornstarch. Be careful not to over thicken it. The sauce should be light and silky.
Serve the dish:
Serve the asparagus with a generous amount of sauce and sprinkle with chervil leaves. Asparagus is usually eaten with torn pancakes, regular pancakes, or boiled potatoes on the side.