A short time after I came to work at the White House, we found ourselves in need of a new chef. I was asked to reach out to well-known American chefs and solicit their recommendations for a new White House executive chef. One of the people I called was Thomas Keller, famed chef and food innovator, owner of French Laundry and Per Se, and author of some of the great cookbooks of our time. He was kind and helpful, and took the time to give me good advice about the kind of chef we should be looking for. I have been a fan ever since, and we used recipes from his Bouchon cookbook at the White House on more than one occasion.
This recipe is adapted from another of his cookbooks, Ad Hoc, and I love it because it makes a quick but elegant brunch, or a late supper when life has somehow caused you to miss dinner.
Prep time: 25 minutes
- 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 6 Eggs
- 2 Bunches thin asparagus
- Canola oil
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- 2 Cups torn croutons
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Aged balsamic vinegar
- Fleur de sel
- To poach the eggs, bring 6-8 inches of water to a boil in a large deep saucepan.
- Prepare and ice bath. Add the vinegar to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Crack an egg into a small cup. Using a wooden spoon, stir the water at the edges of the pan in a circular motion to get the water moving, then add the egg to the center of the pan and simmer gently for 1 ½ minutes, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice bath. Skim and discard any foam that has risen to the top and take the remaining eggs one at a time.
- The eggs can be poached several hours ahead and stored in ice water in the refrigerator.)
- Trim asparagus to the same length.
- If using medium or large asparagus, peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler.
- Coat asparagus with canola oil and salt and pepper, and grill at medium heat, 1/1/2 – 2 minutes per side.
- Arrange the asparagus on a plate or platter.
- Bring a pot of water to a simmer.
- Trim uneven edges from the poached eggs and lower into simmering water for 30 seconds to reheat.
- Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and blot the bottoms with paper towers.
- Season the eggs with salt and pepper and arrange around asparagus.
- Arrange prosciutto and croutons on the platter. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper.
- 1 loaf country bread (I have used brioche bread for this as well.)
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- Canola oil
- Clove of garlic
- Tear bread into 2-inch pieces. You will need ½ cup of croutons per serving. Reserve remaining bread for another use.
- Heat canola oil and add crushed garlic, cooking until garlic is golden brown.
- Remove garlic, add butter and spread croutons in a single layer in the pan, stirring often, about 15 minutes until golden brown. Use immediately.