Its Asparagus season and that means you should get the most out of this sensational vegetable while it’s fresh! Learn how easy it is to ember roast this thick skinned vegetable to bring out the fantastic flavor of this vegetable as a side dish, or used as an ingredient in other recipes like a refreshing dip, soup, or stuffing for meat or fish.
- Hibachi or other small charcoal equipment
- SmokinLicious ®Grande Sapore® Wood Chips in your choice of species
- Fresh asparagus with thick stalks (or store bought is fine)
PREPARING TO EMBER COOK:
Clean the Hibachi or small charcoal grill unit of all previous ash, as well as any leftover wood and charcoal. Add the SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products Grande Sapore® Wood Chips in the base of the Hibachi on the charcoal grates. If not using a Hibachi unit, then place the wood chips in the charcoal area of your small charcoal grill. I like to use Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® Chips to bring a balance to the asparagus’ flavor. Since I plan to use my roasted asparagus as an ingredient in other recipes, I’m using the chips in their natural state rather than soaking in a flavored liquid but feel free to soak in wine, alcohol, juice or other liquid of your choice.
LIGHTING THE FIRE
After loading the Hibachi or other unit with my Grande Sapore® Cherry Chips, I light the chips using a small kitchen size torch. I let the chips burn down until I have about 2-3 inches of hot embers to cook with. I need the layer long enough to accommodate the spears of asparagus and deep enough to ensure the embers encircle most of the spear. I keep plenty of extra Grande Sapore® Cherry chips on hand to ensure I get the depth and size of the ember bed throughout the cooking process. This includes maintaining a perimeter of unlit chips around the hot embers.
PREPARING THE ASPARAGUS
While I wait for the chips to burn down into embers, I start preparation of my fresh asparagus. First, I gently clean the spears and then trim the bottoms just where they are a bit dried out and tough. I gently pat dry and leave them in a tray to wait on the fire. I drizzle some oil over my asparagus spears and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. The oil will help the seasoning stick to the spears and also ensure an even cook on the asparagus. Letting the asparagus sit while you wait on the embers allows the seasoning to penetrate the stalks, giving it additional flavor.
EMBER ROASTING TECHNIQUE
Once I have a bed of hot embers, I’m ready to cook! I won’t be needing the grill grates as asparagus has a nice thick skin so it’s an ideal vegetable to be placed directly on the hot coals. Prior to adding the asparagus, I add some more wood chips to the outside perimeter of my cooking area so that I will be able to bring in new embers as needed. In addition to providing new embers, the unlit chips will provide additional heat to the grill as they ignite.
I lay my asparagus spears into the hot embers allowing the coals to wrap around the majority of each spear. As I’m using very thick diameter spears, I will let the asparagus cook in the embers for about 10 minutes prior to checking on the char level. Just like with conventional cooking, you’ll see the asparagus get a brighter green sheen as they cook through. Once I see a nice layer of char develop to the skin, I will turn the spears with tongs. The oil will also give a nice golden hue.
I’ve turned the asparagus spears only as the char develops on each side until they are fully charred and the spears have tenderized. You’ll know the perfect tender level when you prick the spear with a knife tip and it just penetrates.
Now I’m ready to use these beauties in my recipes but only after a few spears are enjoyed as is. Ah, the perks of cooking over hot embers. Bon-Bar-B-Que!
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