Chicken and Asparagus

asparagusI’m sure you’ve heard it all by now, but Sam Claflin is dead tired of eating chicken and asparagus. Me though, nope– I think chicken and asparagus are two of the best, most tasty, most versatile, and most nutritious things a person can prepare, and then eat. I’m a bit of a cook, not trained by anyone special, unless you count my mother as someone special, which I do, ’cause hello– she gave birth to me! Oh! Also my siblings, but no one wants to hear about them. I’m no Crystal; who runs fictionalfood.net, but I do know my way around a garlic press, which is an invaluable tool (seriously), that patting meat dry before cooking it is tantamount, and that having sharp knives in your kitchen is more than necessary, in fact it’s sometimes a matter of life and death. Let me put it this way, getting accidentally cut with a dull knife whilst preparing food more than likely leads to infection, because dull knives hold more bacteria, and germs– no matter how clean you think they are. Sharp knives if they cut you, cut you clean– for lack of a better word, the cut will not be jagged, and the likelihood of bacterial infection is much less, and when it heals, the scar will fade faster. Get your knives sharpened by a professional for a couple of dollars ASAP, people. I know it seems scary, but if you don’t you could let any number of infectious bacterium lie around your home, when it could easily be prevented. Yeah, you think this lesson is over? It’s not! Check out Sam below talking about the process of taking on Finnick Odair!

 

Where was I? Damn it all to hell, his dimples are distracting! Oh yes, chicken and asparagus. I’m going to make an educated guess here, but Sam was probably not doing very interesting things with these two food stuffs, which perhaps has led to his distaste for them. And, of course this makes me sad in my soul, because there’s so very much to be done with them, and nothing naughty– only tasty! As far as I’m concerned there are only about five ingredients you need in your kitchen at all times, and they are as follows: Lemon (can be supplemented with any number of wines, and also orange), it is there for acidity of course, and for flavor– it’s usually used at the end of the cooking process as to not over-power a dish. Next up, garlic. I don’t know why people are so afraid of garlic, because garlic1it tastes great, it’s good for you, and if you think it smells bad, get over it– because I’d much rather smell garlic on someone’s breath than Twizzlers. FYI, keep garlic at room temperature, otherwise it spoils or dries out before its time. Onion, and don’t you dare keep it in your refrigerator before they’ve been cut, chopped, or had their skins removed, refrigerating onions before these processes leads to moisture, which leads to the vegetable spoiling quickly, and you literally throwing money away. You can keep onions and/or shallots in your pantry for months uncut, but only a matter of days or weeks in your fridge, learn this now or forever be wasting money. Herbs, my favorite herbs are Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel, Basil, and Lavender, otherwise known as, Herbs de Provence. Olive oil, extra virgin is good (meaning the 1st press of the olives), but you really never know what you’re getting now a-days, people can slap whatever they want on an olive oil label now. My take, if it smells like olives, and not like something else entirely, it’s good. ‘Kay, if you’ve got those five ingredients, you can make millions of delicious meals all year round, and for cheap. Now, the question is– what to do with these five ingredients?

I’d say use your imaginations, but I’m afraid. So, here’s what I do– and what Sam could have done, or still could. Say you’ve got some chicken, I prefer chicken that’s on the bone, and still has skin– I know this makes it more caloric or fatty, but it also means they actually taste good when cooked. If you’re afraid of chicken skin, or chicken bones, get boneless, skinless chicken thighs– chicken breasts are okay, but they’re really dense, and harder for flavors to permeate. Get a bowl, the mixing kind is best, mine are all made of metal, but if yours are ceramic, fine. Take your chicken, pat them dry with paper towels, because residual moisture makes steam, and you do not want that. Take a few garlic onionscloves, I’d say the more the merrier, but I’ll be conservative and say three large cloves, remove the skins, and chop the garlic finely– if you’re not good at chopping garlic, get a garlic press– I’m thinking of naming mine God. Put the garlic in the bowl. Take your lemon, your wine, or your orange, and juice/pour a cup/260 ML. Put your juice, or wine in the bowl with the garlic. Herbs time! If you’re a measuring freak get out your measuring spoons, but for me I use my hands, and add pinches of herbs to the bowl also whilst rubbing the herbs with my fingers to make them break up more finely. It also makes your hands smell nice. Now add a splash of olive oil, and put your chicken in the bowl, and you guessed it, or I hope you’ve guessed it– let the meat marinate. You can put the bowl in the fridge, but leaving it out on a kitchen counter with perhaps a bit of plastic wrap over the top is good, or a kitchen towel– the acid in the juice or wine acts as a nice preservative for a time (20 – 45 minutes), but if you’re paranoid– fridge it– but know the longer the meat stays in the marinade, the better it will taste. Asparagus is another story, but not really: Wash it, and get rid of the ends, the best way to do this is not to chop, but to take the stalk in your hands and break off the end. Just bend it, and where ever it breaks is literally where the vegetable wants to be broken, and you should listen to it, because it’s smart, and knows its self better than you do. You could also chop up some onion in here somewhere, and have it be friends with the marinade, or the asparagus– this is the only place I’ll allow your imaginations to run wild.

How to cook these things! You could saute, bake, or broil the chicken. I won’t suggest boiling the chicken, because that means all the flavors you just added with the marinade will leech from it, thus defeating the purpose of all that time, and work, and garlic fingers. The healthiest method is to broil and/or bake the chicken. Broiling pans are best if you’re trying to be healthy, because the meat will not be cooking in its own fats, and juices, but if

Your new best friend!

Your new best friend!

you want more flavor, set the meat in a baking pan– glass is good. So, you’ve chosen which kind of pan you’ll use, now you cook the chicken until it is cooked through, i.e. no pink. How to know if chicken is done is poking it with a fork, and if the juices that flow out of it are clear, it’s done. So, 15-35 minutes depending upon if you’ve gone with boneless, skinless thighs, bone-in and skin on legs or thighs, or boneless, skinless breast at 300-400 degree heat should do the trick, and do not place the pan directly under the heat source, that will burn the meat on whatever side it’s facing. Now for the asparagus! Healthiest method to cook it is to steam it. If you don’t own a steaming apparatus, get one– they look like this, or this. Where most people go wrong when steaming/cooking vegetables is how long. Read it now, and know it forever to ensure you do not make limp, gross, disgusting vegetables, because the magic number is six. That’s right, six minutes to steam/cook asparagus (also broccoli), and only six. How to know it’s steaming, the water it’s set in/above is boiling. You can also steam onions along with the asparagus, you simply can’t go wrong with this choice. 

Congratulations! You’ve just made a yummy meal, that was probably really cheap, really easy, and very un stressful! Now to make it more filling, make some rice, or have a nice salad along with it, and you’re golden! And know this, Katniss’ mother could totally make this, only she’d likely have to use berries for juice, or Ripper’s white liquor, along with some other vegetable– perhaps even Katniss Root.

 

Damn it I’m hungry, and this probably would have made a better video!

 

Them There Eyes

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2 comments

  1. You had me at “asparagus”.

    I actually had NO clue what Herbs de Provence meant. Will have to try this recipe pronto. Now if I could just get me some Katniss root.

  2. Okay Them There Eyes, I’m a big fan of you, both also chicken breast and asparagus and I’ll take on the challenge. Learned all this at my Grandmama’s right hand.

    I think the problem with most boneless skinless chicken breasts is that people cook them way, way too long which makes them too tough and dry and rubbery. I like to take my raw chicken breasts, pound them flat with a rubber mallet ( I actually do this while they are still in the grocery store package.The violent blows are very therapeutic).

    After a suitably harsh beating, take the chicken breasts out of their packages and brush on a little Dijon mustard mixed 50:50 with Hellmann’s mayo. Scatter some bread crumbs on top and put the whole thing in a lightly greased baking dish. Bake in the oven (preheated at 375-400 degrees) about 10-15 min. Check by cutting the largest filet at the widest point: it should still be pink in the center, but not running red juices. If they are like, you know, Vampire Red, put them back in the oven and give them 2-3 minutes extra (keeping a silver cross handy). When they are light pink inside take them out of the oven. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and let cool before refrigerating. The filets will finish cooking perfectly well by themselves. You will not die of some dread, over-Googled infection and you will love the delicate flavor and texture.

    Meanwhile, back at the asparagus patch….The worst thing you can do to asparagus is to overcook them. I like to boil or steam them for just about 5 -7 minutes (depending on how thick they are), dress them with a little balsamic vinegar, fine olive oil and garlic and then run them under the broiler for another 3-5 min.

    Maybe Sam/Finnick would like his meals a bit better with your approach or mine…but even though they are coming along nicely, our dear British cousins have rarely been noted for their appreciation for Haute Cuisine 🙂

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