Here’s a special dish tailor-made for an elegant spring brunch. It requires slightly more than the usual amount of work, but it’s so worth it. Most of the recipe’s several components can be prepared ahead of time, then reheated and assembled at the last minute.
The base is artisanal toast brushed with olive oil and topped with roasted asparagus. The asparagus can be prepped and pre-roasted, then warmed in the oven before serving. The bearnaise can be prepped just short of stirring in the fresh tarragon and kept covered and chilled until the moment of truth. You can poach your eggs as much as a day ahead.
I have an idiot-proof method for poaching eggs that will change your life if you love eating poached eggs but you’re wary of making them. So if nothing else here grabs you, please pay attention to the poaching.
The only tricky part of this recipe is breading the eggs without breaking the yolks. You need to move slowly and delicately when transporting them. Lift them carefully in and out of the ice water with a large slotted spoon. Coat the poached eggs by gently lifting up the edges of the parchment paper, which causes the eggs to roll over in the flour and bread crumbs. Move the coated eggs into and out of the oil using that slotted spoon (now well-dried). Resist the temptation to turn the eggs in the oil — they’ll brown on both sides without being turned.
I encourage you to coat and deep-fry the eggs for a taste of something ethereal and to put this dish over the top. But if you’re not a fan of deep-frying, poaching the eggs will be enough. Your guests will be delighted anyway.