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Slow-Sautéed Asparagus with Pancetta

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Serves four.

  • To learn more, read:
    Slow-Sautéed Vegetables
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 44

Pancetta is like bacon except that instead of being a smoked, sliced slab, it's cured in salt and rolled into a thick sausage shape. For a vegetarian version of this dish, you can omit it.

  • 1-1/2 oz. pancetta, sliced 1/8 inch thick, cut into 1/4 x 3/4-inch strips (to yield 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil, preferably fruity and full flavored
  • 2 small cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1-3/4 lb. medium to large asparagus (28 to 32 spears), fibrous ends snapped off, stems peeled, rinsed, and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Set a plate lined with paper towels near the stovetop. Set a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium heat with the pancetta and olive oil. Cook the pancetta, stirring frequently, until light brown and slightly crisp (don't let it fully crisp and harden), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the pancetta with a slotted spoon to drain on the prepared plate (leave the fat in the pan).

Set the skillet back over medium heat and cook the garlic, stirring continually, 30 seconds or until just starting to turn light gold. Transfer the garlic with the slotted spoon to drain with the pancetta.

If less than 1 Tbs. fat remains in the pan, add enough olive oil to compensate. Melt the butter in the pan, add the asparagus, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the spears are light golden brown and tender (they won't brown evenly) with a slight edge of crispness, 20 to 30 minues.

Transfer the spears to a serving platter, scatter the reserved pancetta and garlic over them, and serve with the lemon wedges.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 110; Fat (g): fat g 6; Fat Calories (kcal): 60; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 2; Protein (g): protein g 7; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 450; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 10; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Sarah Jay

This recipe is wonderful! My boyfriend and I are usually not huge asparagus fans, but this dish was really tasty and full of flavor.

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