Summer always presents me with a cooking catch-22: my creativity jumps into overdrive from the abundance of gorgeous and delicious fresh produce available, but the longer evenings and warmer weather make the kitchen one of the last places I want to be. For me then, the key is creating tasty dinners with those wonderful local, fresh ingredients that aren’t heavy on prep, cook, or clean-up time. This recipe for Chicken, Asparagus & Rice Skillet accomplishes all those things!
Asparagus is such a wonderful vegetable to cook with, especially in the early summer when it’s in season, because it needs minimum prep and cooks in moments. But let’s address the stinky green elephant in the room, if you’re genetically predisposed to reeky-wee, you get cautious about when and where you dine on these double-edged verdant swords. Supposedly, grilling helps calm down the reactive chemical, though I’m inclined to think that’s more urban legend than hard science. But the bottom line is when something so wonderful is so plentiful, sometimes you have to just hold your breath and jump. Especially when it’s part of a one-pot wonder that only requires you to use your stovetop for 15 minutes or so. Now, go open those windows and enjoy!
Helpful Hint: When buying one of those monster packs of chicken breasts, I like to individually freeze each breast in its own zip-top bag, especially since they are usually so big, often a pound each or more. I will also pre-cube a few of the breasts, so that when it’s time to cook, the messy work is done and once it has thawed, the chicken is ready for the pan!
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 lemon, zested (the juice will also be used, but always zest first)
2 1/2 cups low-sodium or unsalted chicken stock, or water
3 cups “60-second” brown or white rice
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of the zested lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Warm the olive oil in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add the chicken to the pan and evenly sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper over the chunks. Allow the chicken to get some color on each side, flipping occasionally. This should take 5-8 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and lemon zest, let cook about a minute, then add in the chicken stock, and remaining salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.
- Mix in the rice and asparagus, stirring to combine. Distribute the contents of the pan so that everything is in a single layer, this will ensure the rice cooks evenly. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes. Note: If you like your asparagus more firm, wait to add it to the pan until Step 5.
- Next, turn off the heat, remove lid, and give everything a stir. For firmer asparagus, add the cut pieces in now. Place the lid back on and let rest with the heat off for another 5 minutes or so. The rice will be ready when there is no more liquid in the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the lemon juice, serve and nosh!!