Pan-Grilled Asparagus and Oyster Mushrooms with Pancetta and Garlic Puree

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Asparagus and mushrooms are particularly good cooked slowly on a heated iron grill, or a la plancha—a method that imbues these vegetables with a clean, pure taste and concentrates their flavors. For best results, I cook each vegetable in its own way, arranged side by side on a grill set over two burners, until tender and charred, then combine them just before serving.

I lightly salt half the grill before setting the asparagus on top, and I lightly oil the other half and spread out the mushrooms. When they are almost finished cooking, I add a dab of pancetta and garlic pureed with duck or goose fat to the mushrooms. This flavoring puree comes from southwest France and is best made in advance, as the flavor improves with mellowing. It will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and can be used to enhance stews, bean or lentil soups, and any mushroom dish.

As an alternative to the garlic and pancetta puree here, pour some browned butter over the mushrooms and top the asparagus with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ingredients

  • 12 thick asparagus spears
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • ¾ pound meaty oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Pancetta and Garlic Puree
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. Trim the thick stalk ends of each asparagus. Slowly heat a large iron plancha or skillet until very hot; sprinkle it with coarse salt. Lightly brush each asparagus spear with olive oil and cook until charred on one side. Turn each spear over and continue cooking until tender, about 12 minutes total.
  2. Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and trim off any hard parts. If there is room on the plancha, lightly brush with oil; add the mushrooms with a drop of oil and cook them, side by side with the asparagus, until nicely browned and tender. If not, separately cook the mushrooms in a heated heavy skillet.
  3. Add the garlic and pancetta puree to the mushrooms, toss, and cook 1 more minute. Scrape the asparagus onto a shallow serving plate and sprinkle with lemon juice to taste. Add the mushrooms and mix gently. Sprinkle the parsley on top and serve at once.