I had some fresh asparagus that was close to being past it’s prime, so I was trying to think how to use it. I ran across a recipe for chicken and asparagus and scanned it quickly. I remember thinking, OK, I brown the chicken and add Crem of Aspargus soup and simmer for a bit. I can add the asparagus at the end or whenever to have the asparagus as tender as I want.
My first obstacle was that I didn’t have any Cream of Asparagus soup. The next day was my grocery day, so I decided to postpone my dish until after my shopping trip.
Surprise! My local grocery didn’t have ANY Cream of Asparagus soup. Time to regroup and make the dish from scratch!
Lemon and or lemon juice
Water bath at 170F
Rinse asparagus, lightly season and place flat in a vacuum bag with a small amount of butter. Seal and cook at 170F for about 15-20 minutes.
The treatment of the chicken is optional. The goal is to have nicely browned chicken breasts. In this case, I cut the breasts in half crosswise and pounded them lightly till they are about 1/4-3/8” thick. They will plump a little when they are cooked.
Brown the chicken breasts in a mixture of peanut oil and butter (enough to cover the pan). After browning, deglaze the pan with chicken stock, cover and simmer.
In a saucepan, sauté the onions in butter till they are translucent. Then add the bacon bits, mashed capers/green peppercorns and chicken stock and bring to a low boil.
Open the sous vide bag and drain the juice into the chicken stock. Reserve enough asparagus tips so that each chicken piece will have at least 3-4 tips when plating. Cut the remainder of the spears and tips into pieces (about 1”) and add to the chicken broth. Cook until the asparagus is very tender and even almost falling apart.
Puree the asparagus with a little milk or heavy cream until you have a smooth, velvety mixture. Add the deglazing liquid from the chicken and blend with the asparagus mixture. Add lemon juice to taste.
Simmer the chicken pieces with the asparagus mixture for 10-15 minutes, adding the reserved asparagus at the last minute.
Plate with 3-4 asparagus tips per chicken piece and serve additional sauce and lemon sliceson the side. The side dish in the photo is puréed cauliflower.
I thought this was a really good dish. Using the sous vide for the asparagus was a little unnecessary for the method I chose to make the Cream of Asparagus Soup. In retrospect I would have divided the asparagus before cooking. Cook the asparagus tips for 10-15 minutes and then immediately immerse the sous vide bag in an ice bath. This would help the asparagus tips retain their vibrant green color. I would then just give them a quick heat up before plating them on top of the chicken without adding them to the sauce.
The sauce would also make a terrific Cream of Asparagus Soup! For soup, as well as this dish, you can improve the texture by passing the mixture through a chinois after the purée step to remove the fibers from the stems as well as any other bits that were missed. Peeling the asparagus before cooking also helps.
Consider guanciale instead of bacon bits. 👍🏻