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Fried Eggs with Asparagus, Pancetta and Bread Crumbs

Adding pancetta to classic buttered bread crumbs contributes the taste of bacon without overwhelming the dish. To round out the Italian flavors of this simple presentation, accompany the eggs and asparagus with toasts drizzled with olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 16 asparagus spears, tough ends removed
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 thin slices pancetta, chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter or canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Spread the asparagus out in a baking dish large enough to hold the spears in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn the spears several times to coat them evenly. Roast the asparagus, turning once or twice, until the spears are tender-crisp and the color has darkened slightly, about 15 minutes; the timing will depend on the thickness of the spears. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the 2 tsp. butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the pancetta and cook, stirring, just until it darkens slightly, about 1 minute. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the 2 Tbs. butter. When the butter foams, break the eggs into the pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Reduce the heat to low and season the eggs with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook until the whites are set and the yolks begin to firm around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Just before the eggs are ready, divide the asparagus evenly among 4 warmed plates. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the eggs to the plates. Sprinkle the eggs and asparagus with the pancetta-bread crumb mixture and garnish with a light dusting of cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).