Cooking with Kyle: The perfect way to cook asparagus
OKLAHOMA CITY – Asparagus is a showy, delicious spring treat. Many people are intimidated by cooking it – much because it is easy to over or undercook.
Here is the easy way to success:
1) Select the freshest. Look for tips which are not damaged, still tight, no signs of fraying. Also, check for firmness. If the stalks appear to have shriveling toward the bottom or if they are soft to the touch, they will not render a good product.
2) Medium sized is best. The pencil-thin cooks very quickly. It is tender, but also is the easiest to overcook. Conversely, stalks which are thumb- sized or bigger will be tough – especially the stems.
3) Factor that cooked Asparagus does not hold well – Asparagus may be prepped in advance, but allow a few minutes to grill, sauté or broil the spears just before serving.
For each serving, factor 3-5 medium spears per person. First, cut off the ends of each spear. Spears may be cut “to fit the plate,” but absolutely remove any white – I usually remove at least an inch from the base.
In a stockpot, bring enough water to cover the spears to a rolling boil. Throw in a healthy pinch of salt. Immerse asparagus in boiling water – the asparagus is done when it turns a bright, vibrant green. Using tongs, carefully remove Asparagus from boiling water and immediately place in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Arrange cooled asparagus on paper towels to dry. This process may be done 24 hours in advance; refrigerate and tightly cover spears for later use.
To cook asparagus:
For grilling or broiling, lightly but thoroughly coat each spear by tossing in olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and coarse salt, if desired. To broil, preheat broiler. Place spears on a cookie sheet or bakery tray. Place under broiler for 3-4 minutes – watching carefully. You may add a squeeze of orange or lemon, or some fresh, grated Parmesan. When spears begin to brown, remove from oven and serve. To grill, spears may be placed in a foil “tray,” and seasoned as for broiling, or may be placed directly on grill. The charcoal/smile flavor will be less pronounced using the tray method. In either case, pay close attention so as not to overcook. 3-5 minutes is usually plenty.
To sauté: preheat pan on high heat, with enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place spears in hot pan and agitate the pan to cook. When spears begin to brown, finish them with a squeeze of lemon or orange or a tablespoon of white wine. Using tongs, remove from pan and serve.