You don't often see asparagus breaded and sauteed with the exception of tempura. I thought this might be a nice combination the raw and the cooked and I think it is. The bread crumbs soak up the butter and take on the cheese and the raw and crisp shaved asparagus is a great complement. It is a nice starter plate or a great side dish. Oh and the timing of this weeks contest could not have been better. These spears were cut 15 steps out the kitchen door, literally. —thirschfeld
asparagus spears, pristine condition
finely ground sea salt
egg whites, whipped to soft peaks
plain bread crumbs
good parmesan cheese, grated with a micro planer
Fill a large bowl with two cups of ice and 4 cups of cold water.
Do this at least a half an hour in advance. Take 4 of the asparagus spears and trim the ends. Using a peeler and starting at the root end of the spear shave a 1/16 inch ribbon of asparagus. Place the ribbons into the ice water and set aside or place in the fridge.
Trim the ends of the remaining 12 asparagus. If they seem tough at the root end peel them about two inches up the stem as you would peel a carrot.
To set up the breading station place 4 rectangular casseroles side by side. Fill one half way with water, one with the cup of flour, one with the whipped egg whites and one with the bread crumbs.
Place the 12 spears into the water. Remove one from the water and season it with salt. Leave about two inches of the top out, and dredge the remainder of the stalk into the flour and shake off the excess. Dip into the egg whites and shake off the excess and then roll into the bread crumbs. The spear end of the stalk should be free of any breading.
Place the asparagus onto a sheet tray and finish the remainder of the spears the same way. Remove the shaved asparagus ribbons from the water and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Heat a saute pan, large enough to hold all the spears in a single layer, over medium high heat. Add the canola oil and butter and swirl to combine. The butter should almost stop bubbling but should not be brown. Add the asparagus a spear at a time.
As the spears brown gently turn them browning them on all sides. Once they are brown remove them to a paper towel lined plate.
To plate: place three spears attractively on a plate. Top with a third to a half cup of parmesan cheese and then top with the shaved asparagus. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Serve immediately.