Poached eggs with asparagus, pancetta and parmesan, a contemporary take. I couldn’t leave the classic rendition of the dish that I recently made for the Venice edition of my Weekend Eggs series alone. Here’s why…
I was lamenting the fact that it’s not really customary here in Venice, or anywhere else in Italy really, to have a big breakfast or an eggs-based breakfast. But with all the great produce available, I wasn’t going to let that stop us from doing our own eggs in our Venice palazzo apartment.
So here’s a contemporary take on the traditional poached eggs with asparagus (asparagi in Italian), pancetta and parmesan that I devised while Lara was sipping prosecco while gazing out the window onto the Grand Canal. Someone had to do some cooking…
Poached Eggs with Asparagus, Pancetta and Parmesan, a Contemporary Take
Instead of the poached egg sitting neatly on top of the asparagi, the eggs in this dish sit in an asparagus purée made from the stems, while the tips sit prettily on top.
The parmesan is sprinkled between the egg and asparagus purée instead of on top, and pancetta and breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top to add texture and flavour.
One of the shortcomings of the traditional dish is that you lose much of the scrummy egg yolk when it bursts open onto the plate. I resolved that little problem by serving it in a bowl with a spoon.
Firstly, we make a purée of the stems of the asparagus, place the warmed purée in a small serving bowl, and then we sprinkle some grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top.
Next we place the poached egg on top, then the cooked tips of the asparagus, then add some ground grilled pancetta, and finally sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs on top.
It tastes super and it looks fantastic – even if I do say so myself. What I also like is that it’s both an elegant version of the traditional dish but it’s also easy to serve and fun to eat because you can eat it standing up with a spoon – perfect for an informal brunch. Or a wife who can’t drag herself away from the windows of our palazzo.
Don’t forget to make spritz or serve prosecco to sip with it!
- 2 extra large farm fresh, free range eggs
- 1 bunch of fresh asparagus (we usually allow about 6 pieces per person)
- 50 grams Pancetta (the really thinly sliced variety)
- 1 handfull of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- ½ cup of bread crumbs
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- A few ice cubes
- Bring a pasta pot of water to a good rolling boil. Add a good pinch of salt.
- Trim off the stalks of your asparagus. The best way to tell when you’re at the start of the less ‘woody’ part of the asparagus is to let your knife ‘fall’ onto the asparagus as you go up the stem. When the knife leaves a little ‘cut’ in the asparagus, that’s the place to trim it. Then chop off the tops of the asparagus about 5cm from the tip.
- Fill a bowl large enough to hold the asparagus stalks with water and add the ice cubes. We want the asparagus stalks to stop cooking as soon as we pull them out of the boiling water. This helps keep the colour nice and pretty green too.
- Add the asparagus stalks to the pasta pot. Leave them in the water for five minutes.
- When the time is up transfer the asparagus to the bowl with the ice cubes.
- Add the asparagus tips to the pasta pot. Leave them in the water for one minute. When the time is up transfer the asparagus to the bowl with the ice cubes.
- Put a grill pan on full heat and add the pancetta. You want the pancetta to be crispy, so don’t be shy with the heat. When the pancetta is almost starting to burn it should be quite crispy. Transfer to a plate with some paper towels on it to soak up some of the oil.
- When the pancetta cools down chop it up finely.
- Leaving the grill pan on, pat dry, and add the asparagus tips.
- Add the asparagus stalks to a blender, with a little of the water from the pasta pot. Blend to a purée and add salt to taste.
- In a deep sauté pan filled near the brim with water, bring the water to the boil and then turn the heat down until you have a light boil, with bubbles coming to the surface like you get with water in a freshly opened bottle of sparkling mineral water.
- Break each egg into a small cup with a handle and slide the cup into the water. Let water enter the cup for a few seconds (you’ll see the white of the egg start to cook) and then gently tip the egg into the pan. Do the same with the next egg and start your timer.
- When the time is up use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs. Place on a plate while you finish the dish.
- Put the asparagus purée into a saucepan over medium heat and add the Parmigiano Reggiano.
- When the asparagus tips are grilled nicely, remove them from the heat.
- Put a few tablespoons of the asparagus purée in each small bowl. Carefully slide the egg on top and place the asparagus tips around the egg.
- Sprinkle the pancetta and the toasted breadcrumbs around the egg. Pretty, isn’t it? Now toast it with some Prosecco!