We don’t eat out often in the city. Which may seem odd to anyone that knows there are over 3500 restaurants here; not to mention the amazing variety. We have a tendency to eat at Lenny’s favorite place, Chez Us, all the time. He still says after all these years, that it is the best place to get a decent meal in the city. I have to say he was not disappointed with this Shaved Asparagus Salad with a Poached Egg recipe.
There are a few favorites that stand out, and always come to mind, when we ware asked, “what is your favorite restaurant in San Francisco?” Contigo, Nopa, and Bar Jules are definitely our favorite dinner places. We can honestly say we have never had bad food at either of the mentioned establishments. We recently add dinner with some friends at Nopa, to celebrate a somewhat monumental 40ish birthday. I have to say, every time we have eaten at Nopa, it has been consistent; thirst quenching cocktails, lip-smacking food, and beyond the call of duty service. Consistent, is a good thing, as it will always bring us back for more.
We had this amazing shaved asparagus salad during our last visit. Ribbons of asparagus were tossed with a very light dressing and little tokens of crispy bacon. On top was a “perfectly” poached egg. We have not been able to get that salad out of our minds. I recreated it. I slaved, yes, slaved over a 1/2 pound of asparagus, as I shaved paper-thin slices. Then I gently cooked some pancetta, until crispy, but not overly browned. I deglazed the pan with fresh Meyer lemon juice, which was the beginning of my flavorful vinaigrette, made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, some pancetta drippings, and lemon juice. Before serving, I quickly blanched the ribbons of asparagus, gently patted dry, and then tossed with a small amount of vinaigrette. Laid on top was a perfectly poached egg. It was not the same as Nopa; but, it was amazing. Crispy, and silky ribbons of asparagus, lightly coated with warm and creamy yolk. Perfect for a light dinner; just add a nice glass of Rose, and a bite or two of warm crusty bread.
Shaved Asparagus Salad with a Poached Egg
*two large servings (as a main meal) or four smaller servings
1/2 pound asparagus, washed, patted dry
4 slices of pancetta, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 Meyer lemon, juiced
3 tablespoon pancetta fat (drippings)
3 tablespoons deglazed juice made with lemon
2 tablespoons shallot, minced fine
2 tablespoons red vinegar
black pepper, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
2 eggs (use 4 eggs if making smaller servings)
Bring a large stockpot of salted water to boil.
Shave your asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler, start from the top of the spear, and gently shave downward, to create a thin ribbon. Continue until you only have a small piece of the spear left; I then run a small paring knife down the middle to separate. Firmer spears work the best. Don’t give up. It is meant to be rustic.
Put the shaved asparagus into a sieve, and lower into the boiling water, for 1 minute. Remove, and immediately rinse with cold water, to stop the cooking; keep under the running water for 3 minutes.
Lay onto sheets of paper towel or a flour sack towel, and gently pat away the water. Let sit, until dry; about 15 minutes.
After making the asparagus ribbons, start the dressing.
In a large frying pan, cook the pancetta over medium-low heat, until slightly browned, and crumbly. Remove the pancetta to a paper towel.
Remove 3 tablespoons of the pancetta drippings, and put into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan, and deglazed; cook down until you have about three tablespoons. Add to the mixing bowl with the pancetta drippings.
Add the shallot, vinegar, and the olive oil. Whisk until creamy; about 3 – 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a salad bowl, toss the dressing with the asparagus, and the crisp pancetta.
Poach 2 eggs. To serve, divide the asparagus into two serving bowls. Top with a poached egg.