Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? I promise you this recipe delivers. I discovered it on British chef Jamie Oliver’s website. On paper, it seemed deceptively easy, and lucky for me it was! The only downside? I burnt my finger so bad pulling the ‘hot as hell’ cast iron skillet out of the oven that my right hand was rendered useless while eating. One of the hazards of being the cook I suppose. Make sure you use a oven mitt and not a dish towel that could slip exposing your pinky finger to 400 degree temperatures! Ouch!
I added a couple of my own twists for additional flavor which incorporated into the recipe beautifully. If you aren’t a fan of asparagus, I could see maybe substituting brocollini which I did last night (below). Clearly I like this recipe.
The key (I think) is a very heavy duty cast iron skillet. Again, watch your fingers and hands! Cast iron creates the perfect sear on the chicken before mixing all the additional ingredients together and slipping into the oven. This is also great when you are scrounging around your fridge and only have two chicken breasts like I did!
- 2 chicken breasts (feel free to double recipe if feeding a crowd)
- One bunch asparagus (recipe called for 8 sticks, but I did the whole bunch which was perfect as I love asparagus)
- One half pint of large cherry tomatoes, chopped in quarters (mine were almost golf ball size) – I probably used 10 in all
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- Olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic sliced somewhat thickly (original recipe doesn’t call for this)
- 1 lemon grated, zest only (original recipe doesn’t call for this)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (original recipe doesn’t call for this)
- White wine (1/2 cup – 3/4 cup, or enough to cover the bottom of the skillet so that a sauce can be made with the liquid)
- Balsamic vinegar (I forgot to add this, but honestly it was delicious regardless)
- Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating up, coat chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and let rest. Chop all garlic cloves into thick slices and set aside. Place cast iron skillet on the stove top and pour in some olive oil (not a ton, maybe a few tablespoons) and some red pepper flakes. While skillet is heating up, add about 2 of the sliced garlic cloves to the pan and allow to brown ever so slightly. Add in chicken (at this point the pan should be HOT!) and sear for a couple minutes on each side (do NOT cook through). While chicken is searing, wash and break the hard part of the asparagus stems off and cut tomatoes into quarters. Season asparagus tomato mixture liberally with salt, pepper, the remaining garlic cloves and some chopped and whole rosemary and place in bowl. Add a few more tablespoons of olive oil and give everything a big stir. Set seared chicken aside.
Add asparagus and tomato ‘garlicky goodness’ mixture to the cast iron skillet. Layer chicken on top and pour white wine around and give everything a quick little stir. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Key: I used a turkey baster to continually baste the chicken with the wine and garlic juices while cooking. Zest lemon and set aside. One minute before chicken is done, open the oven and hit the skillet with lemon zest and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Close oven door door, wait one minute, remove and serve! Note: I forgot the balsamic vinegar which you are supposed to drizzle on top when finished but it was delicious regardless.
I paired this with Israeli couscous (Pearl couscous) that I cooked the following way. Cut one shallot and add to saucepan with 1 tablespoon of butter and a tiny, tiny bit of olive oil. Lightly brown shallot and then add the couscous (1 1/2 cups) to the pan with some cinnamon and one bay leaf (sounds weird I know but trust me). Give it a few stirs. Add double the liquid (so about 3 cups) chicken stock to the pan. Bring to a boil, then turn low to a simmer and cover and cook til the liquid has been absorbed. Add salt and parsley when finished.
That’s it! This recipe was fast and super, super tasty. I loved the way the wine and tomatoes and garlic created a nice sauce when blasted together at 400 degree temperatures. Be sure to scoop that sauce over everything when serving. Enjoy!