During the summer we don’t like to spend to much time in the kitchen because of the heat. But I still crave comfort food. This dish fits the category of comfort food and is luxurious. The egg and olive oil create a rich sauce for the grilled asparagus. The prosciutto is buttery and the croutons are heavenly. The finished salad is surprisingly filling. This recipe comes from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home cookbook (p. 156) and serves 6.
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 bunches pencil thin asparagus
- Canola oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- 2 cups Torn Croutons
- 1 loaf country bread
- Garlic Oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Aged balsamic vinegar
- Fleur de sel
To make the torn croutons:
Cut the crusts off the loaf of bread. Tear the bread into irregular pieces no larger than 2 inches. You need about 2 cups of croutons; reserve any remaining bread for another use.
If you don’t have garlic oil on hand, pour 1/8 inch of canola oil into a saute pan, add 5 crushed, peeled garlic cloves, and heat over low heat until the garlic cloves are golden brown, flipping the cloves from time to time. Remove the garlic cloves and use the oil for the croutons.
Pour 1/8 inch of the garlic oil into a large saute pan and heat over medium heat until hot. Spread the bread in a single layer in the pan (if your pan is not large enough, these can be cooked in two smaller pans). Add the butter. The oil and the butter should be bubbling, but if you hear sizzling, the heat is too high. Adjust heat as necessary, and stir the croutons often as they cook. Cook until the croutons are crisp and a rich golden brown color on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes.
To poach the eggs:
Bring 6 to 8 inches of water to a boil in a large deep saucepan. Prepare an ice bath. Add the white wine vinegar to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small cup or ramekin. Using a wooden spoon, stir the water at the edges of the pan twice in a circular motion to get the water moving, then add the egg to the center of the pan and simmer gently for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the egg to the ice bath. Skim and discard any foam that has risen to the top of the wate, and cook the remaining eggs one at a time. (The eggs can be poached several hours ahead and stored in ice water in the refrigerator.)
To make the asparagus:
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for cooking over medium heat, or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat when you are ready to cook the asparagus. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Hold an asparagus spear and bend it to break off the less tender bottom end. trim all of the asparagus to the same length. If using medium of large asparagus, peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler. Spread the asparagus out on the parchment-lined pan, generously coat with canola oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus on the grill, or cook in batches in the grill pan. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, flipping with a palette knife or narrow spatula, until tender. Arrange the asparagus on a platter.
Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. With a small pair of scissors, trim any uneven edges from the poached eggs. Lower the eggs into the simmering water for about 30 seconds, just to reheat. Remove the eggs with a skimmer or a slotted spoon and blot the bottoms with paper towels. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and arrange around the asparagus. Arrange the prosciutto and croutons on the platter. Drizzle the salad with olive oil and balsamic, and sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper.