This post originally appeared on the Taste and Savor blog on April 9, 2012
The beginning of this month found me in New York City for my first ever, International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. Chef Nancy and I were lucky enough to spend seven days in the Big Apple, seeing the sights, attending the culinary conference and of course eating.
It was beyond exhilarating to be around people who share the same passion for food as I do. It was nice to be surrounded by chefs, food bloggers and cookbook authors who take as many food photographs as I do, and who also find it a necessity to discuss what's for dinner, when lunch is not yet through. Needless to say, I was like a kid in a candy store. It's not hard to feel this way when you are sitting three feet away from the legendary Jacques Pepin. Or, when Sara Moulton takes the time to chat with you in the hallway.
What a great week of networking, inspiration and tasting a myriad of delicacies, from the great melting pot that is New York City. Out of everything I ate on this trip, it was perhaps one of the most simple dishes that got me the most excited. It was an asparagus and soft boiled egg dish, that I enjoyed as a first course at L'Ecole, the student run restaurant at the French Culinary Institute. The asparagus was perfectly blanched and served with crispy pancetta, lightly fried asparagus shavings and topped with a gorgeous soft-boiled egg. In my opinion, the epitome of spring.
I rushed to make my own adaptation of this dish as soon as I returned home. My version is the bottom photograph, and L'Ecole's original, pictured above. Try this asparagus as a first course or a light lunch with some crusty bread to mop up the golden egg yolk.
Roasted Spring Asparagus:
Serves 4 as a first course
1 Bunch of thin Asparagus, washed and trimmed of fibrous ends
1/2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
1 thin slice of Proscuitto
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1/4 cup Parmesan and Herb Panko Crumbs
4 Eggs, either Soft Boiled, Sunny Side Up or Poached (your choice)
Step One: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a foil-lined sheet pan, drizzle asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and lay in a single layer on pan. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, until asparagus is cooked through, but not charred.
Step Two: Place prosciutto slice in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook prosciutto for 6-8 minutes, turning twice, until crispy and browned and some fat has been rendered. Remove prosciutto from pan and allow to cool before crumbling.
Step Three: Spray the pan with prosciutto fat with a light coating of olive oil spray and add the panko. Stir panko constantly over medium-high heat until crispy and browned, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat an set aside.
Step Four: Prepare eggs in your preferred style.
Step Five: Divide asparagus evenly between four plates. Top each plate with an egg, crispy prosciutto and panko*. Serve immediately.
* There may be some panko leftover, which can be reserved and used for another occasion.