Recipe for Asparagus with Farm Eggs and Ham Hock Vinaigrette from Chef Frank Stitt
It’s the perfect recipe to welcome spring—or to serve at Mother’s Day brunch: Asparagus with Farm Eggs and Ham Hock Vinaigrette from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill, the bestselling cookbook by Birmingham’s most beloved chef.
Find the recipe below and read our Q&A with Frank Stitt right here.
Asparagus with Farm Eggs and Ham Hock Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as an appetizer
The smoky bits of ham hock add a depth of flavor to this composed salad of spring onions, just-dug potatoes, farm eggs, and asparagus.
- 2 meaty smoked ham hocks
- 3 thyme sprigs, 3 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, and 1 bay leaf, tied together to make a bouquet garni
- 2 small spring onions, quartered
- Tiny pinch of sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 small creamer potatoes (tiny new potatoes)
- 16 jumbo asparagus spears, tough ends cut away and bottom half peeled
- 4 large hard-boiled eggs, organic or “free-range,” peeled and quartered
- 1 heaping cup young lettuces, such as baby arugula or watercress, trimmed, washed, and dried
- ¼ cup Three-Vinegar Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Put the ham hocks in a deep medium saucepan and add water to cover by 3 to 4 inches. Add the bouquet garni, bring to a simmer, and cook slowly until the meat is tender, 2 to 3 hours, adding water if neccessary to keep the hocks well covered. Remove from the heat and let cool in the broth. Remove the ham hocks and pick the meat from the bones; set aside. Reserve the broth for another purpose, if desired.
Place the onions in a small saucepan just large enough to hold them in a single layer and season with the sugar and salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil (or ham fat) and bring to a simmer. Cook until the onions are just tender and slightly glazed, about 10 minutes. Set the pan aside.
Prepare a hot grill.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size. Drain, return to the hot pan, and cover to keep warm.
While the potatoes cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the asparagus, and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and blot dry on a kitchen towel. Spread the asparagus on a platter and drizzle with the remaining 11⁄2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the spears on the hot grill, turning to char on all sides, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the onions over low heat.
Transfer the asparagus to serving plates and arrange the hard-boiled-egg wedges, potatoes, onions, and lettuces attractively around them. Add the ham hock meat to the vinaigrette, and drizzle it over everything.
Makes 1 cup
This is my dressing of choice when I’m cooking at home. Sometimes I skip the mustard or substitute fresh herbs for the dried.
- 1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the shallots, vinegars, garlic, mustard, herbs, sugar, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Let macerate for 10 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the olive oil until incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)