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Griddled Asparagus, Piperade, Poached Eggs, and Grits

['2 cups chicken stock', '2 tablespoons unsalted butter', 'Sea salt', '1/2 cup white corn grits', '1/2 cup heavy cream', '3 tablespoons olive oil', '4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced', '1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots', '1 cup julienned red bell pepper', '2 roma tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped', '2 bay leaves', '1 teaspoon ground Espelette pepper', '1 tablespoon sherry vinegar', '1/2 pound asparagus, tough ends removed, spears peeled if thick', '4 Perfectly Poached Eggs']

In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken stock, butter, and sea salt to taste, and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the grits and stir for 1 minute with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and cook the grits, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until they are tender. Finish the grits with the cream, add more sea salt to taste, and stir well. Cover to keep warm. (I use the waxed paper from a stick of butter for this, placed butter side down over the grits so they don't develop an unseemly crust.)
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic. Slowly cook the garlic over medium-low heat, making sure not to allow any color to develop, for about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, bell peppers, and a few pinches of sea salt. Cook for 12 minutes or until tender. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and Espelette pepper. Continue to cook for 15 more minutes or until the consistency is much like a thick soup. Finish with the sherry vinegar and sea salt to taste, and cover and set aside to keep warm. Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.
Place a large cast-iron sauté pan over medium-high heat. In a mixing bowl, toss the asparagus, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of sea salt. When the pan is giving off a light smoke, place the asparagus in the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the asparagus over and cook for an additional 2 minutes. The asparagus should have good, even char marks all around and be crisp-tender. Remove from the heat.
Spoon the grits evenly onto 4 plates. Place a poached egg on each plate, and arrange the griddled asparagus and pipérade over the top.

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