Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto and Tarragon Aioli

Asparagus and lemon go hand in hand.  The citrus compliments the grassy, astringency of ripe asparagus while the two seasonal ingredients sing springtime. A luxurious aioli infused with tarragon elevates this dish with a rich and bright creaminess. Just to keep it real, oven-dried prosciutto  is crumbled over the dish adding salty, porky crunch. Be sure not to overcook the asparagus. They should be steamed until bright green, but still firm.

Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto and Tarragon Aioli
Serves 4-6 as a side dish or appetizer

Make the Aioli:

2 very fresh large egg yolks*
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Combine the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until homogenized.  Combine oils in a small bowl. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in oil until the mixture comes together and thickens. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in tarragon and lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate until use.

*Due to the slight risk of Salmonella, use only fresh, properly refrigerated and clean Grade A or AA eggs with shells intact, and avoid contact between the opened shell and the whites or yolks.

Prepare the Asparagus:

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends snapped off, bottoms cut on the diagonal
sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon
6 prosciutto slices

Preheat oven to 325 F. Arrange prosciutto slices in one layer on a baking tray. Bake in oven 15 minutes. Turn off oven. Keep prosciutto in oven for additional 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and blanch briefly until they are bright green in color, but still firm, 1 minute.  Remove, drain and refresh under cold water. Lay on a kitchen towel in one layer to cool and thoroughly dry.
Arrange asparagus on a platter. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over. Sprinkle with sea salt. Drizzle Tarragon Aioli over asparagus (or serve on side for dipping.) Break  the prosciutto into shards and scatter over the asparagus.

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