Chicken-Asparagus Skillet

We’re entering Day 3 of our icy entrapment here in the northern ‘burbs, and to say cabin fever has set in is an understatement.  While I’m grateful I did the shopping Sunday, I’m concerned because now we are running low on staples like bread and milk, and there is no end to the ice in sight.  We’re expecting a slight warm-up on Saturday, but the lows will still be below freezing.  As long as the weather is nice for the Super Bowl, right?  That’s all that matters to most folks in the Metroplex right now, as we’re the host of the big game.  Needless to say, the visitors converging on our part of the world are not getting the taste of spring they would normally get this time of year here.

Like many others around the country right now, I too long for spring.  At least the warmth of it, anyway!  I can do without the bone-chilling cold that we’ve had for 3 days now.  The dinner I fixed tonight was a little taste of spring, and easy to fix.  Mind you, I did manage to slice open my index finger while washing a knife I was going to use, so I nearly called this dish “pollo de sangre,” but I didn’t think it would be terribly appetizing then.   If you’re a fan of asparagus, this dish is chock full of it.  I think even picky eaters would gobble this up.  I know we did!

A quick dinner that's reminiscent of spring, this is a light one-skillet meal that has a hint of basil and a kiss of citrus.

I served this with baby bowtie pasta, but you could serve it on its own, or with rice.  A good risotto might be an excellent accompaniment.  Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 pieces of bacon, cut into lardons (pancetta would be outstanding here, but we had none)
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil leaves (fresh would be better, but we had none)
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups)
  • salt, to taste

In a large skillet, render the fat from the bacon and remove the pieces to a small bowl.  You will use them again later, so don’t nibble on them while you’re cooking the rest of the meal!

Using the bacon fat, cook the chicken over medium-high heat until nearly well-done, about 8 minutes.  When the chicken appears to be well-done, stir in the bacon, basil, lemon juice, pepper and chicken stock.  Cover the skillet and let the flavors combine for about 10 minutes.  Add the butter, and let it melt completely into the pan sauce you’ve created.  The butter adds a bit of richness without being too over the top.   Once the sauce is bubbly and the butter melted, add the asparagus and let it cook for about 4 minutes or so, or until the asparagus is bright green.  You don’t want to cook it until it is mushy, because you want it to have a bit of a tooth when you bite into it.

Remove the chicken and asparagus to a platter or bowl with rice or pasta (or nothing) and allow the pan sauce to reduce slightly so it thickens up.  Once the pan sauce has reduced, pour it over the chicken/asparagus and serve while hot.

This recipe made 6 generous servings.  I served this on a bed of cooked baby bowties, which I cooked from 2 cups of dry pasta according to package directions.

A couple of notes:  my husband added some grated Parmigiano Reggiano to his dish, which he said complemented it quite nicely.  Give it a try!

I also think using white wine in place of the chicken stock would add a good flavor here.  We didn’t have any or I would have tried it.

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