Serves: 2-4 depending on hunger and if you're serving anything else
This started life as a plain chicken salad with a caesar-style dressing but the fresh British asparagus was too good to pass up (it is still in season so grab it while you can). In place of salty anchovies, a rummage in the fridge produced a pack of slightly out of date pancetta rashers. However, the idea of the eggy dressing still appealed so I threw everything together and I have to say I’m rather pleased with the results.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 375g trimmed asparagus
- 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and dried
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 110g smoked pancetta rashers
- 3 medium eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- Put the chicken in a non-reactive dish and pour over 2 tablespoons of the oil. Smear over the garlic and add the lemon zest and juice. Cut the rosemary sprig in two and add to the chicken. Leave to marinate for at least one hour.
- Heat the oven to 210˚c, fan oven 190˚c, mark 7. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the asparagus. Cook for 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears-mine were very chunky and took the full four minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Arrange the romaine lettuce leaves in a large salad bowl and add the cooked asparagus.
- Season the chicken with salt and ground black pepper and cook for 18-20 minutes –until cooked through. Pour the cooking juices off into a mixing bowl-you’ll need them for the dressing-and whisk in the Dijon mustard. Leave the chicken to cool and then slice and add to the salad bowl.
- Lay the pancetta slices on a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes until crispy and golden. Leave to cool while you make the dressing.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and carefully lower in the eggs. Cook for 3 ½ minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Peel off the egg shell carefully- the eggs are very soft so be gentle. Put the barely cooked eggs into the bowl with the chicken juices and mustard and whisk to break up the egg. Season with a little salt and ground black pepper. Pour over the chicken and salad and crumble over the pancetta. Finally scatter over the chives.