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May 3, 2010 10:27 AM

Skillet Asparagus

I got about a kilo of thin asparagus and was looking for a way to cook them when I came upon Edna Lewis' method in Saveur on line. Essentially, you wash and trim asparagus and put them in a skillet with some butter, turn the asparagus to coat them all, and cook until done adding only salt and pepper. I usually blanch my asparagus, but I have to say that this was truly simple and very delicious.

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  1. Interesting. How high do you put the heat? I'd be afraid the butter would burn long before the spears were done. In our house we usually trim (if thick enough) the spears, toss in some olive oil and roast for a couple minutes in a high oven.

    4 Replies
    1. re: nstoddar

      The heat was medium and the butter did not burn. I used a cast iron skillet. Here's the link to the piece in Saveur, which I meant to put up before:

      1. re: roxlet

        Ah, so you're covering the asparagus. I guess that explains why they cook before the butter burns.

        1. re: nstoddar

          Right. For some reason, this really seems to intensify the flavor.

          1. re: nstoddar

            I use a 50/50-ish mix of butter and olive oil when I cook asparagus this way, and I find no need to cover. It keeps the butter from burning and it's just as tasty.

      2. Try washing and drying the asparagus, drizzling olive oil over it, putting it in a paper bag and folding it over to close it. Drizzling more oil on the bag and putting it in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes (longer or shorter, however done you like it)

        1. I do essentially the same thing. I get the pan pretty hot, put the butter/olive oil in the pan, the asparagus and then about 1/4 cup of dry vermouth and cover the pan for about 3 - 5 minutes until they're tender, lift the lid until all the moisture is gone, s/p and serve.

          1 Reply
          1. re: John E.

            I usually do this with 1/4 cup or so of water and no oil or oil (adding that after, if I want it), but I'm going to try it with vermouth. I like that idea, thanks.

          2. I've always cooked asparagus in a bit of olive oil or olive oil/butter. Use medium high heat, toss in some chopped or sliced garlic and add washed and trimmed asparagus spears, salt and pepper. Toss once or twice using tongs. Takes 5 minutes at most to cook; no need to cover. Tender and slightly crisp. Delicious.

            1. I was feeling somewhat underinspired last night and had some nice asparagus I wanted to cook - I trimmed it, put it wet into a rectanglar plastic box witth a lid (Chinese food takeout container), and microwaved it on high for a minute, shook the box and let it go for another minute. With just a shake of salt it was scrummy. Would have put butter on it but the rest of the meal was rather rich. Look Ma, no calories!

              2 Replies
              1. re: buttertart

                Note to transatlantic friend.......butter when used with asparagus has no calories. It's a scientific fact.

                Going to try the microwave. We've been looking at other ways to cook, other than steam or boil. Sort of like char-grilling but it's a fine line between adding the char taste and it overpowering the taste of the "grass"

                1. re: Harters

                  Calories weren't (can't say aren't ever, but are relatively seldom) the issue, richness was (the main was pasta with ground veal in heavy cream and saffron). You really should try this, it worked extremely well and the taste was very intense, not watered down in the least.