This is one of my all time favorite dishes and frankly I can't believe I haven't made it since we've lived in Baltimore. This is a fantastic meal for a large crowd and super, super easy to make. It is another classic from my Aunt Nina's cook book, A Matter of Taste. When new babies are born I always turn to Nina's book for inspiration. Olly's arrival warranted this dish.
Eric's parents were also returning from a long Memorial Day weekend in South Carolina so I doubled the recipe and made one for Farm Pond Lane and one for us too. We ate ours for lunch on Memorial Day, as pictured in the first shot.
Chicken and Asparagus in Lemon Sauce
4 whole chicken breasts, cooked and cut into large pieces. note:: I like to cook the chicken fresh vs. using a rotisserie. When the chicken is resting use the juices as part of the cup of "stock" as listed below.
1-1 1/2 lbs. blanched fresh asparagus
4 T. butter
4 T. flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup chicken stock
2-3 T. lemon juice (I used the juice of three lemons)
4 T. dry white wine or Vermouth (use the Vermouth!)
Fresh Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Lemon Pepper to taste
Melt butter; whisk in flour and cook through. Lower heat. Add cream, lemon juice, and stock; cook stirring until thickened. Add wine after removing from heat.
Layer asparagus; season with salt and lemon pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Add chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Pour sauce over and spring with more Parmesan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
I doubled the recipe and honestly, I never measure when making a roux. I just eyeball it and taste it as I'm cooking. Follow the recipe exactly if this is your first time. Most important part is to cook the flour. You don't want your sauce to taste like raw flour. (The chicken is "resting" in the background. I sear the chicken pieces and then bake for 7-10 minutes on each side to cook through in an oven at 350. This method keeps it really juicy.)
I added extra lemon zest with the cheese for ours. We are freaks about lemon. I acutally forgot the lemon pepper by accident. Proving again that I never use recipes.
I tried to make this gluten free with Almond Meal. It didn't thicken up so I added a little flour as well.
When the sauce coats a spoon it is ready for the Vermouth. I swear the Vermouth makes this meal. It reminds me so much of our family meals. It think it must have been a fancy dancy deal in the 80s when Mom was so into cooking!
I like to peel the asparagus spears. And don't over cook it. Blanch it just enough to turn it bright green and then shock it in an ice bath. Layer and add the chicken. You don't have to add so much cheese if you don't want the extra salt.
Make extra sauce. The more sauce the better! Baby Boy Blue Pyrex went home to Olly.
Heat and use your best silver, set your table, cut peonies and pour iced tea. It's the most simple dish but tastes like a million bucks!
Emily posted her dinner on Facebook last weekend after we dropped it off. She cooked it perfectly! It should have a golden crust. I only cooked ours for 15 minutes, because we were starved. Everything is cooked so it just needs to be heated until it is warm and bubbly.
Olly update; his grandparents just left, leaving big lipstick kisses. What a lamb.
Nina, I love you to pieces for this and all of your fail proof recipes. This meal celebrates spring so perfectly. Thank you for it and all the others. Olly, we are sending you big kisses from Stone Hill. Love, Aunt Nellie and Uncle E