I cooked this recipe when I was filming in the beautiful Tuscan town of Lucca, where I met a violin maker called Fabio. He told me all about how to make the perfect violin and how long it takes – 240 hours of really hard work. To say thank you for the wonderful day we spent together, I cooked him asparagus, his favourite vegetable, with a poached egg – a classic combination. If you prefer, you can boil or steam the asparagus instead of grilling.
- 300g fine asparagus, woody ends removed
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 very fresh eggs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a ridged cast-iron chargrill pan over a high heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the asparagus on a plate
and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the oil. When the pan is very hot, lay the asparagus in the pan and grill for about 5 minutes or until tender but still firm (al dente), turning occasionally.
Meanwhile, prepare the poached eggs. Place a medium saucepan filled with 2.5 litres of hot water over a high heat. Stir in the vinegar and some salt. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Poach the eggs in 2 batches. Break one egg into a cup. Slowly slide it into the water. Repeat for the second egg, keeping it well apart from the first so the eggs are not touching each other.
Poach very gently for 3–4 minutes or until the white is set. Keep the water at a very gentle simmer throughout to ensure the eggs do not become too hard; you just want a few bubbles breaking the surface. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the eggs and transfer to a plate or kitchen paper to drain. Repeat for the remaining eggs.
Divide the asparagus between warm plates and carefully place 1 poached egg on top of each serving. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle over the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil.
Gino’s Italian Express by Gino D’Acampo is published by Hodder & Stoughton, £20