- 1 pound fresh asparagus (thick spears)
- 4 tablespoons robust olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt (this may seem like a lot of salt, but it helps draw the flavor out)
- Trim the tough bottom end of the spear by grasping each end and bending gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness (usually the bottom third).
- Take a carrot peeler and remove the outer skin of the lower portion of the remaining stalk.
- Place asparagus on a plate. Cover in oil, turning until each spear is thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with salt and turn again.
- Grill asparagus directly over a hot wood charcoal fire for about 5 minutes, rotating asparagus 1/4-turn every minute or so. Asparagus should show the beginning signs of charring, but not be allowed to blacken entirely.
- Remove from grill and serve immediately (eating spears with your fingers enhances the experience).
Le Secret: In my humble opinion, real hardwood charcoal (available in most grocery stores as "mesquite") provides the most rewarding grill flavor. This opinion may stem from my difficulty in conceptualizing how petrified lava rocks can duplicate the smoky flavor of natural wood. However, in a bind, a propane grill, ideally spiked with aromatic wood chips, will deliver respectable flavor.
The Adventure Club: Grate wide shavings of imported Italian parmigiano reggiano cheese over the top of the finished asparagus.
Shopping Tips: Look for firm stalks with deep green or purplish tips. Also check the bottom end of the spears. If they are dried up, chances are they have been sitting around for too long.
Grilling Notes: Dripping oil may cause flare-ups. Keep a glass or spritzer of water handy to sprinkle on the coals if necessary. Thin spears char very quickly.