Let’s talk about meat (kind of). I like it. Most people do to varying degrees. Some people try to live without it and some of them succeed. I know a few of these people. They occasionally attend my backyard barbeques, knowing full well that they do so at their own risk.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all hostile about their lifestyle choice. I’m just wasn’t always sympathetic to their dietary needs. They were welcomed to bring a few veggie burgers. I’d even allow these meat like pucks on my grill. Yes, I would go as far as ensuring that they are fully warmed. And I usually remembered to ask their permission before flipping them with my meat-contaminated tongs. But it didn’t go much further.
Well, times have changed and I have found a way to kill two birds with one stone. It is possible to please your friends – both the herbivore and omnivore alike with the amazing Arizona Asparagus. As it turns out, a meat eating experience can actually be enhanced by coupling it with a vegetable encounter.
Why call it the Arizona Asparagus? The two words have little to do with one another but I’m going to link the two as follows: I am sitting in a hotel in Tucson right now and I have been meaning to write a post about grilled asparagus. Also I have a sunburn therefore I feel similar to a grilled asparagus. That is all. Oh yeah, and cactus and asparagus have a similar shape.
Some of you may be thinking – I don’t like asparagus. I know, I used to have those thoughts too. But you don’t have to live that way anymore. It just turns out that your mom didn’t know how to make them taste good. Here’s how.
You will need.
1 bunch of asparagus
2-3 garlic cloves
4 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar (this is the secret ingredient)
Go out and get your grill going and open a beer (Sam Adams White Ale today).
Inside you have a few jobs to do. Rinse off the asparagus. I like to keep them in the rubber bands and lay them on a cutting board. Get out the big knife and cut off about an inch from bottom of the stalks, this part is tough and dry, it doesn’t need you and you don’t need it, discard them or give them to the kids to chew on. Now take off the rubber bands.
Melt your butter and stir in the rest of the list.
Once your grill is hot, scrape it down and lower the heat to medium low. Lay out the asparagus perpendicular to the grates so that they can’t fall through. A few will, but I consider this a small sacrifice to the grill. It’s kind of like making a flavor deposit for future use.
Get out your favorite basting or pastry brush and liberally apply about one third of the seasoning mix onto the asparagus. The butter will drip down and flare up, do not be alarmed, this is very temporary and can be fun if you like fire. I like fire. Close the lid.
A few good things are happening under that lid. 1) Small burning drips of butter are making little char marks on our once bright green sticks. 2) The butter and sugar are mixing and cooking into a low-grade caramel of sorts.
Normally I would say that this would be a good time to go back inside and prepare a side. But if you are like me, this asparagus will only be one of two, possibly three, other items that you will be grilling and that’s ok. If you have a lot going on grill side, feel free to leave the top up and flip and maneuver things as necessary, today I’m warming up a beef brisket that has been peacefully sleeping in my fridge. I smoked it last week and have been waiting patiently to find an opening in the lineup for it.
After a few minutes, roll the sprigs around in an attempt to flip them. Don’t try to flip them, this will cause them to fall between the grates. Just roll them as best as you can. Now paint them with our butter mixture again. Wait a few more minutes and repeat. The goal is to get them soft and slightly charred without making them mushy. Practice makes perfect. Total cooking time should be around ten minutes so if you are making steaks or chicken, try to coordinate things so they all get done at the same time.
So if everything is done, remove your asparagus to some foil and head to the table. You will be amazed at the level of enjoyment you experience while eating these. The sometimes bitter flavor of the asparagus is totally masked by the combination of smoky, salty sweetness of this method. As always feel free to adjust all spices to suit your taste buds. I prefer the sugar to be very understated and tend to use it sparingly. But no matter which way you take it, you’ll be sure to garner accolades from any type of ‘vore you may be cooking for.