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Pancetta-Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette

June 5, 2009

I love zesting oranges. My entire kitchen gets all naturally citrus-y (as opposed to cleaning material citrus-y, which just ain’t cutting it). It’s such a bright, clean, nostril-clearing scent. And apparently, I always have oranges in the house, a fact that I need to investigate because a) I don’t remember the last time I just picked up and ate an orange, b) ditto for purchasing, and c) ditto on both fronts for the husband.

Whatev. Mysteries make life more interesting. And make Citronette more tasty.

Asparagus is one of those farmer market items that I can’t say no to. I’ve tried, and failed, almost weekly. So there’s just about a never ending supply of asparagus in my fridge. It’s just that I can’t consume it fast enough, and they just look so damn extra culinary for some weird random reason, and I love cooking it. Diced with pasta, or as a cool looking pyre for fish (we save that for company – it’s a bit to pretty for regular folk dinners).

But the boy is not as eager to indulge in asparagus as I (many bad experiences…kind of the vegetable equivalent of the rabbit incident) and as I’ve already tricked him into liking broccoli and tomatoes and eggplant, I’ve been trying to pick my culinary battles carefully.

I’m being strategic. The majority of my major successes are in line with smothering the undesirable in cheese or smothering the undesirable in sauce.

Tonight, I’ve officially added to the this: smothering the undesirable in meat. Hmmmmm. Meat.

This was a Serious Eats inspiration that I stumbled on through the Food Blog Search – the only thing I had to run out for was the pancetta and I picked that up right in the fancy lunch meat case in a pre-sliced package. Ok, so its not exactly a sawnter down to the Italian market, but the skies were relatively gray and dreary all day. Enough to make my local Acme seem slightly more attractive in the rain-filter light.

For Citronette

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tsps Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsps chopped thyme

In a small bowl, rapidly whisk together the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Chill until serving.

For asparagus:

1 pound asparagus (about 19 stalks), trimmed
3 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 paper-thin slices pancetta

Preheat the grill or broiler.

Snap the dry stem ends off of each asparagus and place on a heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Wrap with prosciutto (some say 1 piece, but as I’m an overindulgent fool, I’d say at least 2).

Grill/broil until the asparagus is tender and easy to break with a knife (you want it firm, not soggy), about 5 minutes.

Serve with the citrus mustardy sauce for some good eats.

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