Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Recipe: Chicken, Asparagus, and Rice with a Buttery White Wine Sauce

So, as we sat down to dinner and each took our first bites of the meal, my dad said "Wow! I really like the look of this sauce, and it's really good too! How'd you make it?" Before I could even answer, my mom cut in and said "She pulled it out of her butt." That's her way of saying I came up with it on the spot (how appetizing, mom!). I do like to work off of recipes, just to get an idea of what to do, but I usually glance at the recipe print-out once or twice, then merrily carry on without it, adding things as I see fit until I'm happy with the results (and often ending up with something very different). That's just what I did tonight when making this sauce and, to be honest, I didn't actually write down the ingredients as I was making the sauce (I think I did a good job at guessing the amounts for this post though!). I also took a crap-ass picture right before digging in because I hadn't really thought this meal was going to be that exciting, so I hadn't bothered to bring my camera downstairs and I was too hungry/lazy to go get it before eating. So, considering I just "pulled this out of my butt," this sauce was lovely—light, bright, and buttery—and it was very easy to make.

Please excuse the poor quality iPhone picture. When I make this sauce again, I will be sure to replace this with a proper  photo.

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 cup white or brown rice 
  • 2 chicken breasts, either flattened to 1/4-to-1/2 inch thickness or cut into short slices 
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cleaned, with ends of stalks removed
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

For the sauce
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, quartered and cut into thin slices
  • 3/4 cup white wine (cooking wine is fine)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth/stock (I recommend low sodium)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • A pinch of dried sage
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • A pinch of dried marjoram
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Water-and-cornstarch mixture to thicken, as needed

Preheat the oven to 450*F. Arrange the asparagus in a shallow baking dish, lightly coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside. Cook rice according to package instructions (the brand I use requires water, butter, and salt and takes about 20 minutes to cook—the goal is to time it so that the rice finishes around the same time as everything else for the meal). While the rice is cooking, add a little butter and olive oil to a medium pan over medium high heat, then add the chicken. Cook until just cooked through and golden-brown on both sides. Remove from pan and place in a covered dish or place on a plate and cover tightly with foil to keep warm. Put the asparagus in the oven when the rice still has about 15 minutes to go and cook for the asparagus for 15 minutes, or until crisp-tender. While the rice and asparagus are cooking and the chicken is being kept warm, add 1 tbsp. butter to the pan used for the chicken, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat until fragrant and slightly soft. Add the white wine, chicken broth, and lemon juice and continue to cook for about a minute. Whisk in the sour cream, then add the remaining 2 tbsp. butter and add in the herbs and salt and pepper, whisking to blend. Let the sauce gently boil for a minute, adding a little cornstarch-and-water mixture if desired (this will help thicken the sauce slightly). Reduce to medium low heat. When the asparagus and rice are done, plate them alongside the chicken and top with the sauce. 

The sauce is what makes this dish—it's a little sweet and tangy from the wine, a little salty and creamy from the butter and sour cream, and gets a little flavor boost from the herbs and spices. It's easy to make—perfect for a weeknight meal—and it dresses up the simplest of meals. 

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