2 pounds asparagus, cut into 5- to 6-inch lengths (use the thicker stem ones if possible)*
Freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 tablespoons butter
Coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
* Select bright green asparagus with closed, compact, and firm tips. Also look for cut ends that are not dry. Select asparagus stalks that are about the same thickness so cooking will be uniform. Thickness does not influence quality. If the tips are slightly wilted, freshen them up by soaking them in cold water. If you can find the purple-tipped asparagus, they are outstanding and beautiful.
Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Cook in boiling salted water until just crisp-tender, approximately 4 to 5 minutes for thick stalks. Remove from heat and remove asparagus with a slotted spoon; drain on several thicknesses of paper toweling until ready to serve. Remember that the asparagus will continue to cook from their own heat as they stand and cool, so if you like very firm asparagus, time them accordingly.
Divide cooked asparagus among 4 individual serving plates. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Set aside and prepare the fried eggs.
Perfect Fried Eggs: In a medium-size frying pan over medium heat, heat the butter until just hot enough to sizzle a drop of water. Break and slip eggs into the pan; reduce heat to low and cook approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until whites are set but yolks are still runny.
With a spatula, remove the eggs to the plates you will serve them on and place on top of the asparagus (be careful not to break the yolks). The eggs should be hot enough to slightly melt the grated Parmesan cheese.
If the butter has not already begun to brown, increase the heat under the frying pan and cook butter until lightly browned. Pour the browned butter over the top of the eggs. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Serve Asparagus Milanese immediately.
Makes 4 servings.