Monday, August 1, 2011

July 29: Creamy Chicken and Asparagus on Toast

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 French baguette
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup half-and-half or cream
1 bunch of thin "pencil" asparagus, ends trimmed off, then cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
4 thin slices Black Forest ham or other good-quality ham, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO. Add the onions, thyme, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until nice and brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Remove the onions from the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO and 1 tablespoon of the butter, add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

While the chicken is cooking, split the French bread in half lengthwise, just shy of cutting it completely through. Dig out some of the insides of the bread and discard. Push the bread open and flatten out to keep it open.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter, a little salt and pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the parsley,

and evenly spread the butter mixture on the inside of the bread. Cut the buttered loaf into 4 portions, arrange on a cookie sheet, and transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the toasted bread from the oven, set aside on the cookie sheet, and switch the broiler on.

Add the browned onions back to the skillet with the chicken, dust with the flour, and continue to cook for 1 minute.

Whisk in the white wine, stock, and half-and-half and bring up to a simmer.

Add the asparagus and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the asparagus are tender and the sauce is thick. In a small bowl, combine the grated Gruyere with the bread crumbs. Stir the remaining chopped parsley and the chopped ham into the chicken and sauce.

Divide the creamy chicken into 4 portions in the pan, then transfer each portion to top the toasted bread. Sprinkle a little of the cheese on top of the chicken, then transfer the cookie sheet to the broiler to melt and brown the cheese.


This was a very tasty meal, but I think it was probably written wrong. I think the chicken would have been much better in the sauce had it been cut into bite-size pieces before it was cooked. Also, I think the bread should have been split all the way through and cut into fourths. I changed the cheese to be Gruyere or Swiss. My grocer's Gruyere is just too expensive for me. I used red wine instead of white because I couldn't find my corkscrew to open the bottle of white wine. I took this recipe from November, because I'd rather have pumpkin polenta in November than July.

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