Saturday, May 19, 2012

White Asparagus, Spinach, Pancetta, and a Poached Egg [Zack]

White asparagus is in season in Belgium and it's invading menus everywhere.  It's for good reason - it's really delicious!

I've been fantasizing about making this dish for a few weeks.  I figured the combination of the savory white asparagus along with some sauteed spinach would play really nicely when they are topped with some croutons, crisped prosciutto, and a (hopefully) perfectly poached egg.

This is a great dinner to have if you are sick of eating big slabs of meat, but don't want to quit cold-turkey for a meal.  And plus, I think you'll enjoy the interplay of this veggie-centered meal.  If you like your poached egg with a runny center, it will add a great creamy quality to the dish - you can save the hollandaise for a special occasion :)


We are going to cook the prosciutto and the croutons first since they don't need to be hot when the dish is served.

First, put prosciutto into a cold frying pan with 1 tsp of olive oil and turn the heat on to medium.  It will slowly render down the prosciutto and will crisp it after about 8 minutes.  Just watch it and flip it when needed.

Cube your bread as large as you like croutons.  Add 1 T of garlic butter (or regular) and 2T of olive oil to a pan on med-low heat. Let the butter melt and swirl it around until it coats the bottom of the pan.

Toss the croutons in the butter to evenly coat them.

Add in your dried oregano, onion powder, and salt.  Continue to toss every minute or so to ensure that all sides are being browned evenly.  If you think it looks too dry, you can always drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.

Transfer both your prosciutto and croutons on a separate plate to await the final step of putting everything together.

Get a large pot of water boiling for your poached egg.

Since white asparagus is thicker than normal asparagus, you should peel off the outer layer.  It tends to get woody otherwise.  Peel it just like you would a carrot and cut off the bottom 1-2 inches of the stem as well.

Add this to a medium-low pan with a 1T of olive oil.  Toss for a few minutes in the oil.  Add the shallots and then cook for another minute.

Toss in your handfuls of spinach and cook for another 3 minutes.  Take off of the heat until you are ready to serve.  It should still be hot as long as you don't screw around with the eggs too long.

Back the heat off a bit on your boiling water so it comes back down to a simmer.  Crack each egg into a bowl.  Swirl the water around so it looks like a typhoon and drop the egg gently right into the middle.  The encircling water will fold the whites over the yolk so you have one solid poached egg!

After 3 to 3.5 minutes, extract the poached egg and plate the whole dish.  Serve with an appropriate Belgian beer.  Here, I had a Golden Carouls Classic.

8 white asparagus spears
3 large handfuls of spinach
1 shallot
2 eggs, poached
4 slices crisped prosciutto

3-5 pieces old bread
1 T garlic butter (or regular butter)
2-4 T olive oil (depending on how thirsty your bread is)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder

Song:  Selah Sue - Crazy Vibes (great Belgian singer!)

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