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I'm going to be grilling some asparagus which I have never done before. How long should I be having them on the grill so that they're not all mushy and soft? Is there something I should be doing to them beforehand to help them retain their crunchyness?

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    If you don't have a grill pan, and your grill has large openings on the grates, you might want to use a couple of skewers to make something that looks like a raft out of the asparagus ... it means they'll only cook from two sides, but it's better than lossing most of 'em as a sacrifice to the grill gods.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 22:19

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I sometimes steam asparagus before sautéing on a high heat with some lemon juice to get some caramelization on the outside of the asparagus. You could adapt this idea to the grill by sealing the asparagus in tin foil with a little water and steaming for four minutes (for finger thick spears). Then give them a bit of colour by placing them directly over the grill for a minute.

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Clean and dry the asparagus, and then hand rub with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh ground salt and pepper

Char on very hot BBQ grill turning frequently until the surface starts to bubble

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I rub them in butter, salt then contain them I n aluminum foil tent to cook in the grill. I keep the coals to one side and put the veggies on the other side, place the grill lid on and open the vent holes above the food. Cook to desired tenderness.

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I grill asparagus frequently on a gas BBQ grill. Some tips:

I prefer to use thicker spears when grilling, at least 1/2" thick at the base. Anything thinner and they'll stick to the grill and get floppy.

I use olive oil, pepper, soy sauce or salt, and a bit of sugar which helps it carmelize better. No need to soak in oil-- just toss the seasoning into a gallon ziploc bag, dump in the spears, close the bag, and shake.

When cooking, I usually put directly on the grill, but using indirect heat. I use fairly low heat, maybe 350 degrees. They usually take 5-10 minutes to cook depending on thickness. Make sure to put the spears perpendicular to the grill bars; I've lost so many spears over to falling through!

You'll need to flip them once. To know when to flip, look for splotches of dark-brown caramel color on the bottom edges. If black, that's too long. If completely green with no brown, keep cooking.

When flipping, I use tongs to pick up and flip 3-5 spears at once. Saves lots of time. It takes practice to get the hang of flipping. Make sure to grip the spears really tight and flip quickly, otherwise they'll fall out and often through the grill. Think of the motion as lifting and swinging back down to the grill (like a inverted U of motion) that gradually rotates the spears without creating a lot of centrifugal force which can cause them to fall out.

After you've flipped, cook the other side for about half as long as the first side. To see if they're done, pick the thick end of a spear with tongs. It should feel firm but flexible, and just a little bendy. If it doesn't bend at all, let it cook for another minute or two. If it's floppy, you cooked it too long.

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