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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

The ABCs of asparagus

April 17, 2002

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To prepare asparagus for cooking, trim away the tough end, or hold the asparagus stalk by its ends and bend it; it will snap at the point where it becomes tough. If you like, use a swivel-type peeler to peel off tough outer skin.
Asparagus holds up well to various cooking methods and requires just minutes to cook. It's important not to overcook in water methods because the shoots will absorb water and soften too much. To avoid this, remove the asparagus from the heat while it's still on the underdone side; it will cook a bit more as it cools.
Here are a few basic cooking methods:
l Grill. Brush or toss spears with oil to coat them evenly. Grill over medium direct heat 4-6 minutes, depending on size, until browned and still crisp-tender.
l Microwave. Place 1 pound of spears in a microwave-safe dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap but vent one corner. Microwave on high 3-6 minutes; remove and let stand 3 minutes before serving.
l Blanch or boil. Bring 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a large skillet. Salt the water slightly when it comes to a boil; that will help retain the bright green color. Add the asparagus, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 2-5 minutes until tender.

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