Making this easy, elegant party appetizer is a balancing act between getting crisp prosciutto and overcooking the asparagus. We found that the sweet spot lies in arranging the oven rack 5 or 6 inches below the broiler, blasting the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears with heat for just a few minutes, and flipping them halfway through broiling. Serve this fancy finger food with a sparkling wine cocktail.
What to buy: For the perfect balance of crispy prosciutto and tender asparagus, choose asparagus spears that are 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Stay away from the pencil-thin or very thick mature spears.
34 medium asparagus spears, ends trimmed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
17 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise (about 7 ounces)
Heat the oven to broil and arrange a rack about 5 to 6 inches below the heating element. Set a large plate aside.
Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle it with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss until the spears are evenly coated with the oil. Transfer them to the large plate and set the baking sheet aside.
Starting just under the scaled tip of the asparagus, wrap each spear with 1 slice of prosciutto in a downward spiral toward the cut end, just barely overlapping the seams of the prosciutto. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining asparagus, leaving as much space as possible between each spear while still fitting all of them onto the baking sheet. (Make sure the spears don’t actually touch, or the asparagus and prosciutto will steam and will not crisp.)
Broil for 3 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and flip the asparagus over. Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue to broil until the asparagus is charred in spots and the prosciutto is crisped and browned, about 3 minutes more.