Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Simple, Quick, Butter Braised Asparagus

Succulent, juicy and tender early spring asparagus
I found the first asparagus in the market today, from this hemisphere. Spring is coming. It's early spring somewhere... Time to share my favorite way to fix asparagus with you. I've been making this asparagus recipe for so long, my family thinks I invented it. I got it from my friend next door  in our old neighborhood, Marge, sometime in the 1980's. As I recall, she found it in a magazine like Gourmet or Food & Wine. Up to that point, I had generally steamed asparagus, or quickly sautéed cuts in butter. It was expensive for newlyweds, and I hadn't started my own asparagus bed yet. In the 80s, we steamed EVERYTHING, and usually until it wasn't quite done. See what Cuisine Minceur did for us? Gave us crudités for dinner. Anyway, when she served us this at dinner, it was the essence of asparagus, and it was perfect. You're just baking it, covered, but what's happening is it's braising in its own juices, and wonderful, marvelous  butter.

Back then everything was steamed. Now, everything is roasted. After a while, I get sick of roasted  vegetables. It seems all you see is roasted this and roasted that. You can even buy vegetables frozen already roasted.You know the fad is trending away (hopefully) when you can buy them ready-roasted, frozen in bags.  Problem is, roasted vegetables aren't always succulent. tender and juicy. Sometimes they're downright tough, and dry, if the cook hasn't been paying attention. You have to stay on top of things roasting at a high temp, or all you'll have is burnt scraps to compost. What's great about this technique, is you can pop it in the oven, and go about making the rest of the meal, and then put it right on the table if you bake it in a nice dish.

These will cook in under 30 minutes, unless your asparagus is large and tough. This recipe is a shining opportunity to get creative with your seasonings. Instead of plain butter, a compound butter like chive or truffle is fabulous, or you can drizzle with plain extra virgin olive oil, if you prefer, in place of the butter. Flavored oils, like blood orange olive oil is delicious, here too, or garlic oil. I won't look if you want to include some chopped fresh garlic, some lemon zest, or a little soy sauce. All are worthy inclusions.

Asparagus ready to cover and bake. These are dotted with truffle butter.
You can nap or fix the rest of the meal while they cook.

Simple, Quick, Butter Braised Asparagus


1 lb. medium asparagus
2T butter or oil of choice
freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Wash the asparagus, well, and snap the stems, or peel them.

2. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer, or at most, a double layer in an oven to table baking dish that they just fit into. Dot with the butter or drizzle with oil, salt lightly and pepper.

3. Cover the pan tightly with a lid or heavy duty aluminum foil, and bake for 25 -30 minutes, 30 to 35, if they are thicker than your index finger, or a little woody.

4. Uncover and serve.

1 comment:

  1. This one is gonna have to wait a while for my garden asparagus, but what a great idea!

    I like what you said about roasting trending away. I'm starting to tire of roasted veggies, too.