Source: Cook's Illustrated 2012
Time and Temperature:
Yield:Serves 4 to 6.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic , sliced thin
1tablespoon unsalted butter

2 pounds thick asparagus spears (see note), ends trimmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil and sliced garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is crisp and golden but not dark brown, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic to paper towel-lined plate.

2. Add the butter to the oil in the skillet. When butter has melted, add half of asparagus to skillet with tips pointed in one direction; add remaining spears with tips pointed in one direction. Using tongs, distribute spears in even layer (spears will not quite fit into single layer); cover and cook until asparagus is bright green and still crisp, about 5 minutes.

3. Uncover and increase heat to high; season asparagus with salt and pepper. Cook until spears are tender and well browned along one side, 5 to 7 minutes, using tongs to occasionally move spears from center of pan to edge of pan to ensure all are browned. Transfer asparagus to serving dish, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and toasted garlic, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and, if desired, squeeze lemon half over spears. Serve immediately.

Note: To Serve 2-3:
Cut all ingredient amounts in half. Cook asparagus in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, covered, for 3 minutes. Remove cover and cook over medium-high heat until tender and browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not adjust heat when cooking garnishes; however, cooking times for garnishes should be reduced by 1 to 2 minutes.

For our pan-roasted asparagus recipe, we wanted a simple stovetop cooking method that would deliver crisp, evenly browned spears without the fuss of having to rotate each spear individually. Along with the oil and asparagus, we added just a little butter to the skillet and covered the pan so that the water evaporating from the butter began steaming the asparagus, providing enough additional moisture to finish cooking the spears to a bright green, crisp-tender stage. We still needed to brown them before they overcooked, but when we found that tasters preferred the flavor of spears browned on only one side, we realized that we could limit the additional cooking time.

This recipe works best with asparagus that is at least 1/2 inch thick near the base. If using thinner spears, reduce the covered cooking time to 3 minute and the uncovered cooking time to 5 minutes. Do not use pencil-thin asparagus; it cannot withstand the heat and overcooks too easily.