Asparagus in May’s kitchen

Keep it simple when cooking asparagus-  you don’t need to tie it in bundles or put it in fancy upright steamers. Just snap off the bottom, slightly woody part of the stem, wash and pop into a deep frying pan of boiling water. The fresher it is the quicker the cooking so I find I only cook fresh stems for just 3 or 4 minutes. Drain then melt some butter in the pan and return the spears. Toss around in the butter then serve on some lightly toasted granary bread with some parmesan shavings on top and maybe a splash of balsamic vinegar. Or, lightly poach an egg and pop that on the top, letting the yolk run down over the spears.

Flambéed Chicken and Asparagus

This is a lovely light dish that could be served on the hottest of days when the asparagus is coming thick and fast!

Best eaten when just cooked.

Serves 2

Takes about 40 minutes

2 boneless & skinless chicken breasts

Dessertspoon plain flour

Good grinding of salt and pepper

Good glug olive oil

Knob of butter

4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 good handfuls  button mushrooms

2 tablespoons brandy

200ml chicken stock

10 asparagus spears

3 tablespoons crème fraiche

Handful tarragon leaves, chopped

  • Put the flour in a shallow bowl and grind in some salt and pepper. Mix together then pop in the chicken and turn to coat well
  • Heat the oil and butter in a deep frying pan and add the chicken breasts on a high heat. Cook on both sides until browned all over.
  • Turn down the heat a little and add the shallots and the mushrooms. Fry until the shallots are softened but not browned
  • .Brown chicken
  • Turn the heat up again and pour in the brandy. Heat for a few seconds then ignite by either lighting with a match or as the chefs do on the telly with your gas flame! Leave until the flames die down and the alcohol has burnt off.
  • Pour in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes depending on how thick the breasts are, until the chicken is just tender.
  • If the asparagus spears are very thick then cut them in half lengthwise otherwise leave them whole. Add to the chicken and continue to simmer for 5 minutes until the spears are tender.
  • Add asparagus
  • Stir in the crème fraiche until it is smooth and heat through. Scatter in the tarragon and some salt and pepper if required.
  • Add herbs
  • Whilst the chicken is cooking boil some new potatoes. When tender drain and return to the pan. Lightly crush just so that their skins are broken with a potato masher and add a generous knob of butter. Stir through until melted and coating all the potatoes. Snip in some fresh chives.

Serve the chicken and asparagus along with the buttered new potatoes and plenty of the creamy sauce.