Thursday, May 24, 2007

Buttered Asparagus

Spring is lurching toward an early demise. It's been hot, and already we're seeing stone fruit in the market. Tomatoes can't be far behind.
Sadly, the asparagus season is almost over. Chris Zuckerman says next week will probably be the last.
And, too late, I just learned the best way to eat asparagus: Sautéed in butter. No steaming, no waterlogging. You want those crisp, brown blisters and insane, dark-sweet flavors.
I've always called the flavor of asparagus "danky." Today I called it "candy." (Which is "danky" inside-out. If you're into phonology, and someday I'll explain...)
I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," about her family's one-year effort to eat locally. I resisted getting the book because I'm afraid Kingsolver and I are pretty much the same nut case.
But Cranky gave me the book for a late birthday present (we've been too preoccupied with other business for that kind of levity), and I'm crazy about it so far.
She decided, after much agonizing, to "begin" their year during asparagus season. Hell, it was going to encompass 12 full months anyway; why not begin on an ethereal (and tenuous) note?
And this is where I learned the best method for cooking asparagus: No water. Just roll the spears around in a skillet of hot butter. Why didn't I know this before?
See ya next year, asparagus.
Fun footnote: I'm using a horribly generic title for this post. I keep hearing that in order to get traffic to your site, you need to use boring, Google-friendly titles. Well, guess what. I don't care about traffic, but if you're here because you're looking for a good way to eat buttered asparagus, you win!
Me, I'll probably lapse back into my lame pun titles from now on.


Anonymous said...

me too! way tastier than boiling. our friend made it for us with chopped pistachios & orange zest. yum!

tammy said...

I always fall back on roasting with olive oil (crispy tips = yum). But, I could definitely do butter.

Kalyn Denny said...

Somewhere I saw a recipe for cooking asparagus this way, maybe on Is It EDible, although maybe not, I can never remember these things. I remember when I read it I thought, wow, that sounds amazing. Must try it before there's no asparagus to be had.

chilebrown said...

After you have browned the butter and asparagus, throw in some cooked Zukerman Asparagus Ravioli. One last weekend of asparagus. sigh!

Anonymous said...

Butt'ry Spears :)

Pille said...

I've roasted asparagus in the oven, and done the boiling thing. The saute-in-butter method needs to be checked out a.s.a.p.
The asparagus season only started here, so we should be able to eat them for another 3 weeks:)

Anna Haight said...

I do a combo -- parboil the spears, rinse in cold water immediately. Then marinate in olive oil and the juice of a fresh lemon. Grill on the BBQ. Everyone inhales these each time I make up a batch.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the asparagus tip. i like cooking mine in water, dousing them with salt, and dipping the spears one by one into a soft-boiled egg.

maybe for your post titles, you could follow the pattern "boring title: punning title." best of both worlds!

Anonymous said...

Ahh, I've boiled, then browned, but now I'll have to try just browning. They look delish. It reminds me a an italian preparation for green beans, slowly saute with sliced garlic in olive oil...

Wow, dipping in a soft boiled egg sounds so good too. I have to go see if there's any asparagus left!

El said...

I finished the book about 2 weeks ago. (I have a serious problem with reading books that only echo my interests, and as you can imagine, this BK book is MEMEME so I COMPLETELY get your hesitancy to read it.)

My fave way to cook asparagus? Put cast-iron skillet under broiler until hot, throw on just-washed asparagus, toss until done (less than 3 minutes) THEN remove pan, add butter, melt butter, then eat. Fastx3.

ChrisB said...

One of the few things embee will cook is asparagus; his method is gentle steam and then roll in butter so still crunchy; I must tell him about this method ready for the next season!!

Freya said...

Brief but worth it though! And supermarket 'all year round' asparagus just doesn't cut the mustard. It's always too bland, too much like green beans to have that just picked taste.

cookiecrumb said...

Anonymous: Wow, and wouldn't you call that painting the lily? Still... yumz.

Tammy: Try this, just once. I usually roast them, too, but with the deeply browned butter...? Swoon.

Kalyn: It's like pudding. Asparagus butter pudding. You gotta.

Chilebrown: Hoh! That's almost a bit of overkill. We ate the asparagus ravioli for lunch today, BTW, with peas and cream, per your orders. You are one balls-out gourmand. Mm.

Jen's Mom: The butter just permeates, because there's no added water. I'll never do asparagus any other way.

Pille: You are in luck. I hope you will try it.

Anna: I like your method. I've burnt my share on the grill, probably because I didn't parboil them...

Shana: I salute you. Dipping in soft-boiled egg? Springtime paganism. Shudder.

UD: Good luck rounding up some 'spairgs. Give it a try. I'm going to buy as much as I can at the market this Sunday.

El: That is so fast! How cool. Er, hot. But -- please try this buttery decadence.

ChrisB: I will admit I cooked these to the point of not-quite crunchy. I was going for that golden, brown effect. Totally captivating. And even so, the tips were still perfectly al dente.

Freya and Paul: Gosh, now I'm even thinking of trying to grow my own asparagus. I know it takes three years before you get your first crop... Ah. Well, I've got a really good local farmer. :D

meathenge said...

Bull pucky. Unless you live in a refinery where no open flames are allowed.

Mesquite fire, hickory chips, directly. Marinated in EV, fresh lemon juice and cayenne.

Or bare nekkid.

Vegetables were grown outside, cook them outside. Show some respect.


chilebrown said...

Bull Pucky, A polite way to dismiss or reject something without having to say bullshit.

We have an open flame,and hang our Aspargus from the open window.
We hope the Bull Pucky winds will dry our spears to say "I'm Mad and I Eat"

Civic Center said...

I learned how to cook from the very snotty Ms. Judith Ets-Hokins when she was doing her "Home Chef" classes up in the Presidio neighborhood in the 1980s. Her way of cooking asparaus is still my favorite:

Get a large pot and bundle your asparagus together with string or rubber band or what have you, stick them standing up in shallow boiling water, let the bottom third cook in water, the upper two-thirds steam, and then rush them to the plate before they're overcooked. After that, they can be garnished with anything to personal taste, but I'm a plain lemon person myself.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

I just boil the asparagus briefly, but this sounds better! There are lots of good ideas in these comments!

Dagny said...

Say it isn't so. The season can't be ending already. *sniff*

Anonymous said...

I've had that book on my to-read list for a while. I'm hoping my library will get a copy soon as I've heard good things about it.

This asparagus looks delish, would you believe that I've never tried asparagus? Well, it's true, but you just may have convinced me to change that!

Ari (Baking and Books)

cookiecrumb said...

Dr. Biggles: Bless your hardened, unflexible heart. I've had your grilled asparagus, and they are the best. But pleeze, try these. Insanitude. Buttery, sweet insanitude.

Chilebrown: So, you're creating organic windchimes? Cool!

SFMike: I totally remember that '80s method for cooking asparagus. They even sold little vertical pots for it, although a cheap coffee percolator pot would do.

Holler: To be fair -- yes, there are lots of good ideas here. But PEOPLE! Try this method!

Dagny: Grab 'em while you can. I've got my eye on a pound or two early tomorrow morning.

Ari: Look, your name begins with "A." All the "A" vegetables are fantastic. So get goin'!!
(Also, I'm a few more chapters along in the book, and I'm still loving it.)

annie said...

are there recipes in the kingsolver book? i'm such a huge fan of her fiction that that would almost be too good to be true.

- anne, intern

cookiecrumb said...

Annie: Oh, yes, there are recipes! I don't want to discourage you from reading the book, but if you just want to scoot straight to the recipes, you can find them at
Oddly (or not so oddly, because it's very simple), the buttered asparagus recipe is not there...

Katie Zeller said...

I;ve not tried this...but I absolutely will, if I get any more green asparagus this season. I don't know how it would work on the big white ones.
Generic, boring titles?!?!?!
That would take all the fun out!
But, there you have it, I think the titles are half the fun...sorry Google...

Dagny said...

I just finished reading about the Kingsolver book in today's Chron. I was thinking about checking it out after reading your post but after reading her comments, I know that I'll have to check it out.

cookiecrumb said...

Katie: Yep, back to crappy puns. Heh. Do try the asparagus!!! AS I KEEP SAYING, CLASSROOM! Sorry.

Dagny: Carol Ness did a great interview. I was jealous that I wasn't there... I hope you'll give the book a look.

chilebrown said...

All right we met a young women that claimed to be a future daughter in law of Chris from Zukerman Farm at Temescal Farmers Market. Wow that was a mouthful. We bought a pd/3.00. I boiled it for less than two minutes. I then smothered it in a Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese and Olinda Olive Oil,salt &pepper. Sigh! Double Sigh!! Peace, Paul

cookiecrumb said...

Chilebrown: I'm glad you told me about your asparagus with Pt. Reyes blue. Because Cranky and I have been debating for a couple of days about an asparagus dish made by Kalyn (that's her up there in the photo) with gorgonzola cheese. Neither of us could imagine that combo. I thought the flavors would be doing fistfights. And yet, here's the second time in a couple of days I'm hearing about it. So, thanks, and peace.

SteamyKitchen said...

Ok, FINE. I get it. I'm trying this recipe tomorrow ;-)

cookiecrumb said...

SteamyKitchen: We want to hear a full report. I got two bunches of asparagus at the Market Sunday, and I'll be damned if I cook them any other way.

B A R T said...

For your less generic title, how about LAST TANGO IN PARIS?
Maria Schneider, Marlo Brando, Buttered Ass-

cookiecrumb said...

B A R T: Will you write all my headlines? :D