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Please Overcook Your Asparagus

The best asparagus aren’t crisp, browned, or even very green.
By Published Mar. 16, 2022

Vibrant green, spotty brown, crisp-tender—these are the qualities of a perfectly cooked spear of asparagus, right?

Wrong. The grassy, snappy specimens that result from grilling, roasting, and sautéing have long been upheld as the paragon of asparagus, but if you ask me, the vegetable isn’t at its very best until it has cooked to the point of losing its verdant hue and—yes!—its crispness. I’m talking about braised asparagus: After a stint simmering in liquid, asparagus’s crisp bite gives way to silkiness; the fresh vegetal flavor evolves into more-complex sweet nuttiness; and the braising liquid can travel into the spears, seasoning them inside and out. What it lacks in color it more than makes up for with big flavor and craveable, delicate texture.

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The Best Asparagus for Braising

When it comes to braising, bigger is better. Look for hearty spears of asparagus that can hold up to this longer cooking method—their stringy fibers will also be less dense than in thinner spears, creating a nicer bite.

The Method

1. Peel off the asparagus’s firm, waxy skin. 

Removing the skin helps the braising liquid travel deep into the core of the vegetable, seasoning the spears inside and out.

Science: Use Botany to Braise Better

To maximize infusion of the braising liquid, we peel off the asparagus’s tough outer skin—this skin is covered with an impermeable waxy cuticle that protects the spears from water loss from within and attack by insects and microorganisms as they grow. When the skin is removed, the braising liquid is able to penetrate the asparagus, seasoning it throughout. A cross section of peeled and unpeeled spears braised in blue-dyed water shows how much deeper the cooking liquid travels. 

2. Add the asparagus in an even layer to a simmering bath of water, extra-virgin olive oil, table salt, and chicken broth. 

These ingredients delicately season the asparagus and allow the vegetable’s sweet nuttiness to take the spotlight.

3. Cook 8-10 minutes.

Cook until the liquid has reduced to a glaze and the asparagus can be easily pierced with a paring knife.

4. Garnish.

Citrus zests and juices, vinegars, and fresh herbs all play nicely here.

Ready to overcook your way to your new favorite asparagus? Get the full recipe below.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.