Our ideal Sunday morning is a trip to the farmers market followed by a big ol' breakfast at home.
And sometimes, even when the Sunday itself isn't so ideal, that's still what we want to do. So it was this past Sunday, when we trudged down to the farmer's market in the rain.
Turns out that we weren't the only Washingtonians hell-bent on hitting the market. Rather than being a soggy ghost town, the market was thriving, with lines at many vendors and folks eagerly snapping up samples of cheese, fruit and crab cakes (Chris' Marketplace, a stand at our farmers market, has the best crab cakes in the world!).
New this week were piles of asparagus. We're talking HUGE bundles of asparagus. Sure, there's been asparagus the past few weeks, but not like this: big, beautiful and just calling out to you.
So we picked up several bundles with a few recipes in mind.
The April Bon Appétit has a feature called "Spring For Dinner," about how to use the bounty of spring ingredients available at markets across the country, such as carrots, artichokes (we wish we got fresh ones here), fava beans (we really wish we got more of these here), peas and, of course, asparagus.
A few things appealed to us about this recipe.
Believe it or not, its use of chicken cutlets is unique for our kitchen. We rarely cook chicken breasts or cutlets. When we cook chicken, we typically use chicken thighs, roast a whole chicken, or do something on the grill.
This recipe has a few steps: Make a gremolata (Not sure what gremolata is? Read about it here). Saute the chicken and then set it aside. Cook the asparagus with spring onions. Simmer the veggies in broth until cooked through. Stir in creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream, along with gremolata and serve with the chicken. Easy, right?
So do you ever start cooking a dish which you think you've planned for and suddenly realize you don't have all the ingredients?
This was definitely the case here -- on multiple fronts.
First, we realized we had used all our shallots, a key ingredient in the gremolata. And to complicate gremolata matters, when we pulled our fresh tarragon out of the crisper, it was, let's just say, far from fresh.
So instead we made our gremolata out of parsley, minced white onion, orange zest and lemon zest. It smelled wonderful and we thought the flavor, though lacking tarragon, would be close to what the recipe intended.
After sauteing the chicken and cooking the vegetables, it was time for the finishing steps. Heavy cream? Nowhere to be found in our house. We could have sworn that we had some in the fridge. So we just skipped it.
The final result, sans shallots, tarragon and cream? Delicious! It was a lesson for at least one of The Bitten Word-ers (The Bittens? The Word Biters?) -- don't be afraid to take a recipe and make it your own, or make do with what you have.
That said, we'd love for some of you to make this with all the ingredients included, and let us know how it turns out.
After all, you can't buy asparagus this fresh for much longer.
More Asparagus Recipes from The Bitten Word:
- Scrambled Eggs with Ramps and Asparagus
- Oven Roasted Asparagus
- Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
* 1 tablespoon minced shallot
* 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
* 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
* 1/4 teaspoon (scant) saffron threads
* 12 chicken cutlets (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick; about 2 pounds)
* Coarse kosher salt
* 2 tablespoons (or more) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 3/4 pound spring onions or green onions (dark green parts discarded); white parts cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, pale green parts cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (scant 2 cups)
* 1 1/2 pounds slender asparagus, tops cut into 3-inch pieces, stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
* 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy whipping cream
Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl; cover gremolata and set aside. Heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add saffron and stir until slightly darker, about 30 seconds. Transfer to another small bowl; cool and crumble saffron. DO AHEAD Gremolata and saffron can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Sprinkle chicken lightly with coarse salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, cook chicken until lightly browned and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Arrange chicken on platter; tent with foil.
Add 1 tablespoon oil and butter to same skillet. Add white and green parts of onions and sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add asparagus. Sprinkle saffron over vegetables. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper and sauté 1 minute. Add broth, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender and broth reduces and thickens to glaze, about 5 minutes. Stir in crème fraîche and gremolata. Season with salt and pepper. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to platter, arranging around chicken. Drizzle sauce over chicken and serve.