Asparagus With Sautéed Bread Crumbs and Poached Eggs
Serves 8. Adapted by Jennifer Creger from a recipe in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf).
11/2 sticks butter
2 cups small-dice white bread
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 fresh eggs
2 bunches asparagus
1. For bread crumbs: Melt butter in a saucepan to clarify. Pour clear butter off the milk solids and into a frying pan. Stir in diced bread pieces and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring until crumbs are lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Poach eggs: Pour water about 2 inches deep into a skillet and add about 1 tablespoon vinegar. Break one of the eggs and transfer to the water by dropping, while holding as close to the water as possible, into the simmering water. Or, break the egg into a saucer and slip the egg from the saucer into the water. Gently push the egg’s white over the yolk with a wooden spoon. Add remaining eggs.
3. After 4 minutes, remove first egg. White should be set and yolk soft to the touch. Place egg into bowl of cold water. Remove remaining eggs. Reheat eggs by placing in a bowl of hot, salted water for about 30 seconds. Removed with a slotted spoon and hold over a folded towel. Roll egg back and forth to drain it.
4. Cook asparagus: Snap off about 11/2 inches of bottom of each spear. Lay asparagus horizontally into a large pan of rapidly boiling, salted water. Return water to a boil, reduce heat and boil slowly, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes. Asparagus is ready when spears bend a little but are not limp. Lift out of water, drain and place on a paper towel.
5. To serve, arrange asparagus on a hot serving dish, place poached egg on top and sprinkle with hot bread crumbs.