Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce

Ready In: 15min
Yield: 4
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A little butter is a perfectly wholesome thing to eat, and vegetables are massively wholesome, and the two together are an extraordinary match. Why force children to experience vegetables as a punishment? "A plate of plain steamed broccoli! Eat it. Maybe next time you'll think twice before requiring nutrients!" Here, the butter is swirled over heat until it is toasty-looking and so lusciously fragrant that you will be practically slavering into the pan. Try it, and see if you can't get your kids to love some green something that they weren't so sure about before.

I've said this before, but I like fat asparagus: they're no older than skinny ones -- and I think they're sweeter and juicier and just yummier overall. But these were pretty skinny, and they were wonderful too.



  1. Wash the asparagus and bring an inch or so of salted water to a boil over high heat in a very wide lidded pan.
  2. Now snap the bottom off of each asparagus spear: there will be a place where it naturally wants to break, a couple inches up from the very bottom, and you will feel this if you bend it a bit. Spread the asparagus out in the boiling water, and cover them.
  3. Check the asparagus for doneness starting at 2 minutes: stick the tip of a paring knife into one and see if it feels tender. If not, boil another minute or two or three, moving them around in the pan with tongs every once in a while.
  4. Once they're done, pull them out of the pan with tongs and plunk them on a dish towel to dry while you make the brown butter sauce.
  5. Now, theoretically, you could already having been making the sauce while the asparagus was cooking, but honestly it's all so quick anyway that I recommend doing one thing at a time -- you don't want to overcook the asparagus or burn the butter, both of which are fairly easy to do. So: put the butter in a very small pan (ideally light-colored, so that you can see the color change) over medium low heat.
  6. Let the butter melt, then continue cooking it, swirling the pan constantly, until the butter gets golden-brown and smells nutty and swoonish, another 3 or 4 minutes. Err on the side of underdone since a) it will cook for a bit longer after you turn the heat off, and b) as long as it's not burnt, the butter will be good no matter what.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the lemon juice.
  8. Put the asparagus on a warm platter (you don't want the butter to congeal) and pour the sauce over it, making sure to get all the yummy brown bits out of the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt. Eat.
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The Cobbs

In Their Opinion:

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making asparagus with brown butter

My kids would never eat asparagus in the past and really liked it this time around.

making asparagus with brown butter

Charlie said he didn't like the asparagus from the last recipe but was willing to try and actually eat them this time around. Caroline liked the asparagus. They were easier for her to eat cut up rather than with her fingers and taking bites.

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