Asparagus may be my favorite vegetable and I thought there was little to do to improve on it’s perfect simplicity.  That is, until I wrapped it in bacon!  Here I show you how to make a bacon (or more specifically pancetta) wrapped asparagus, that has all the great grassy, fresh taste of asparagus with the salty, savory flavor of bacon.  In addition to the great flavors, I love the contrast in texture of the tender, just barely firm asparagus, and the more chewy bacon with crispy edges.  The dish makes a perfect side dish, but more often than anything, I end up using bacon wrapped asparagus as a first course salad, or even an appetizer.  You can do most of the work ahead of time, and then just finish them off at the last minute.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
To make the best bacon wrapped asparagus, just follow these few simple steps:

  1. You’ll want to use good fresh asparagus, and you’ll want to blanch them ahead of time.  I pre-cook mine by about 50%, so that I lock in the great green color, and so I can make sure the asparagus is cooked through (and not raw) right when the bacon is ready
  2. Don’t over do the bacon.  While, I love it, I need to restrain myself from wrapping every inch of the asparagus.  Cover about half the stalk leaving gaps between wraps, otherwise, all you’ll taste is bacon.
  3. When you sauté the asparagus, use good high heat so you can render the bacon out quickly, and get it a bit crisp.  Low heat will lead to flabby bacon, and/or over cooked asparagus
  4. Finally, when wrapping the bacon, overlap the first and the last wrap.  That will help keep it closed around the stalk, as will starting to cook the asparagus seam side first

RECIPE FOR BACON WRAPPED ASPARAGUS
Ingredients (for 2)

  • 8 cleaned asparagus stalks
  • 4 slices of bacon, cut in half length wise for 8 strips
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan Cheese

Making the Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

  • Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and add the asparagus
  • Cook for 2 – 3 minutes
  • Before the asparagus are knife tender, remove them to an ice bath for 2 minutes to stop the cooking process and set the color
  • Drain and dry the asparagus
  • Starting at the bottom of the stalk, wrap the asparagus with a strip of bacon, overlapping the first turn slightly, and then wrap up the stalk, leaving about ½ inch between each turn
  • On the last turn, over the bacon slightly once again
  • If you don’t have enough bacon, either don’t worry about it, as it will still taste great, or use part of another strip.  If you have too much, cut the excess, fry it up and have a little treat while no one is watching!
  • Repeat for all the asparagus, and at this point, you can cover them and keep them in the fridge if you’re doing ahead of time
  • Heat a large sauté pan over med-high heat, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom
  • Add in the stalks of asparagus (you can do two batches if needed); if you can lay a seam side down, that will help keep the bacon from unraveling
  • Cook on one side for about 2 minutes over high heat, and then rotate to brown the other side for 1 – 2 minutes; you want the bacon just browned and rendered, and you want to move quickly over high heat
  • Brown the final two sides, which shouldn’t take more an a minute each
  • Remove the bacon wrapped asparagus from the pan, and season with salt and pepper
  • You can serve as is, or stack them up on a salad plate, shave some parmesan cheese over them, along with a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic vinegar

Wine recommendation:  Asparagus is generally not an easy food to pair with wine.  However, the addition of bacon really opens up the possibilities.  I’d still stay away from reds, and they need to clash with the compounds in asparagus, but I don’t think you can go wrong with a clean crisp Sauvignon Blanc, or because of the fat in the bacon, even a more rich and buttery chardonnay.  Enjoy!

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