Italian Fried “Rice”

Recipe courtesy Chef Brandon Cook, The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated

2 eggs
30 g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
55 g (1/2 cup) panko breadcrumbs
30 ml (2 Tbsp) grated Parmesan
As needed coarse salt
230 g (8 oz) Barilla® Orzo
30 ml (2 Tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
30 g (1 oz) spicy sopressata, diced 12 mm (1/2 in)
55 g (2 oz) sofrito (see Chef Notes)
1 each shallot, sliced 4 mm (1/8 in)
30 g (1 oz) 4-mm (1/8-in) slices zucchini, quartered
30 g (1 oz) Sungold tomatoes
2 large Calabrian chiles, sliced 4 mm (1/8 in)
4 spears asparagus, blanched, stems sliced into 4-mm (1/8-in) coins, 4 cm (1 ½ in) tips reserved
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) colatura di alici or other fish sauce
12 each basil Leaves, torn 2.5 cm (1 in)
1 chunk Grana Padano
As needed salt and pepper
30 ml (2 Tbsp) pine nuts, toasted
  1. In simmering water, soft poach one of the eggs and shock it in ice water. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Beat the remaining egg with a splash of cold water. Season the panko with salt and pepper and the grated Parmesan
  3. Bread the poached egg in the seasoned flour, beaten egg, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the egg for 1 minute at 350 degrees F for 45 to 60 seconds. It’s important that the egg is cold going into the fryer so that the yolk remains runny after frying. Remove the egg from the fryer to a paper towel–lined plate and season with a pinch of coarse salt.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil with added Parmesan rinds, if available, and cook the orzo until al dente. Drain.
  5. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until it begins to shimmer.
  6. Add the sopressata and sofrito to the pan, tossing to incorporate.
  7. Add the shallot, zucchini, and tomatoes to the pan, stirring to incorporate. Continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to blister and shallots begin to caramelize.
  8. Add the chiles, asparagus, and orzo to the pan, stirring and tossing to incorporate.
  9. Drizzle the colatura into the pan, add the torn basil, and microplane an even layer of grana over the ingredients. Stir and toss to combine.
  10. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  11. Mound the fried pasta into a shallow bowl and sprinkle the reserved asparagus tips and toasted pine nuts all over.
  12. Top with the crispy poached egg and microplane more grana over the entire dish.
  13. Crack the egg and enjoy!

Chef Notes: 

Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go along with the crispy fried egg.  Once you start cooking, the dish will come together very quickly!

For the sofrito, cook 6 mm (1/4 in) dice of onions, celery, and carrot until soft with 2 cloves minced garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and 80 ml (¼ cup) white wine.