We bought a loaf of Pain de Mie from Acme a couple of weeks ago, in part to make this wonderful dish. I cut off the top and one end of the loaf so as to make it fit into a freezer container (used this for milk-soaked croutons last week), then cut and froze inch-thick slices to use for two instances of this dish, with another hunk for something else. The dish is from ‘ino in New York, now closed – but fortunately, we bought the cookbooks! This is from Simple Italian Sandwiches. We had it for breakfast twice when we were in NYC in 2011, and the recipe is quite accurate. The book is great.
Basically, you cut an inch-thick piece of sturdy white bread such that the crusts are off, and there is room to cut a 2″ hole in the center and still have substantial bread around the edges. We used Acme Pain de Mie, and really, it is not large enough. I’m going to try Semifreddi ciabatta rolls next time. Except we have two more cuttings of the Pain de Mie in the freezer. So: toast the bread lightly, then with a serrated knife, cut partway, but (be careful!) not all the way through, to make a square well in the center of each piece. The hole should be 2″ on a side, and there should be enough bread left surrounding the hole that there is lots of room for cheese.
I used a plane to cut slices of Fontina Valle d’Aosta that I got from The Cheese Board on Tuesday. This is a terrific FVd’A round, and I bought a substantial hunk. Then I broke one egg for each bread, let the yolks fall into a clean container for a future omelette, and dumped the yolk into the bread well. There is supposed to be room for two eggs, but I did not cut a 2″ hole. This is why I think we should try Semifreddi ciabatta rolls – they will probably give us a larger breaddy space to work with. [A cheap toaster oven is good or something: enough heat leaks out to pre-heat the serving plates!]
The directions here are mildly confusing, or else I was not paying attention. They suggest preheating a normal oven to 350 or using a toaster oven. The toaster oven at 350 did not cook the toasts as expected. Really, they need to be toasted – and indeed, it says “toast” – for 3 minutes or until the cheese bubbles. Remove, moosh the yolk around a bit, and serve with asparagus bits prettily sprinkled around.
The key here is to sprinkle truffle oil generously over the cheese before serving. The truffle oil cost $10 for a teeny bottle, but you use very little of it each time. Keep in the fridge!! I moved this to the counter an hour or two before cooking dinner so it would thin to a liquid, after being in the cold.
The asparagus should probably be cooked first, so you can pay attention to the breads. After snapping off the woody ends, toast the asparagus in a preheated (on high) panini press for 2 minutes, or until it looks roasted but is still crispy. I let it go longer, just unplugging the press, and one of the stalks ended up pretty thoroughly cooked, so 2 mins is probably fine – for sufficiently small asparagus. I’d call the ones I used “medium.”
D prowled around in the cellar and came up with a Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay (2011), which we got at Costco, to go with this. I was skeptical, since K-J Chard tends to be a beginner-friendly, rich ans sweetish wine. Ironically, D decided he didn’t care for it, and I enjoyed it (for old times’ sake as much as anything) but it really didn’t mesh with the food. Need something starker. We’re going to try this again in a couple of nights with a CalStar Mendocino Ridge Chard and see how that works (that would have been my first choice, but of course, it usually is when we’re talking white wine!).