I love this technique for cooking local, fresh asparagus spears that are on the thicker side. A bit of browning and then a quick finish in a little chicken broth and lemon makes the asparagus tender and tasty. Thyme and Dijon seal the deal. This recipe was adapted from my cookbook, Fast, Fresh & Green.

Serves 2 to 3 as a side dish

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine or 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch medium-thick asparagus, each spear trimmed to six inches in length (to yield about 10 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme or 1 to 2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh chervil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. Combine the chicken broth and white wine or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.

2. In a 10-in straight-sided sauté pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, add the asparagus and salt and toss the asparagus well to coat. Arrange in one layer and cook, without stirring, until the undersides are nicely browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Using tongs, turn each spear over and cook, without stirring, just until the other side is beginning to brown, about two minutes. (If the asparagus are very thick, go one minute more.) Carefully (it will sputter) pour the liquid into the pan and immediately cover it. Simmer until the liquid reduces almost completely (1 or 2 teaspoons will be left), about 2 minutes. Uncover, take the pan off the heat, and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, most of the thyme or chervil, and the Dijon. Stir gently with a silicone spatula to mix the mustard with the melting butter and to incorporate any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

4. Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter or plates and pour the pan sauce over it, scraping all of the sauce out of the pan. Garnish with the remaining herbs.