Sunday, August 24, 2008

Perking up asparagus to go with a simple chicken breast...

We breezed through the week with 9 new recipes - our tops this time were those Mini Banana Whoopie Pies, Chicken Sloppy Joe on Sweet Potatoes and the Mexican Pizza from Friday night.

For our side dish tonight, I chose an intriguing way to perk up thick spears of asparagus in this Roasted Sesame and Panko-Coated Asparagus with Soy-Ginger Drizzle recipe.

You do want to use the thickest asparagus spears you can find because the thinner ones just won't hold up well to the coating and roasting. Because the thicker ones can be a little woody, the spears are trimmed and then the bottom two-thirds are peeled. They are then generously coated in a mixture of mayonnaise, rice vinegar, soy sauce and fresh ginger - you should have seen Jeff's face when I plunked the long spears into this glutinous mixture... priceless! His only comment "Err, are you sure you read the recipe correctly?". I retorted with "How about you go play with Gus and let me handle dinner?". Hee hee!

The well-coated spears are then rolled in a coarse speckled mixture of panko bread crumbs, regular sesame seeds and black sesame seeds. You can use regular sesame seeds entirely, but I like the pop of color and slightly earthier flavor the black seeds have. The asparagus are then nestled on a baking sheet and given a drizzle with pungent toasted sesame oil. While they looked to have enough flavor as is, a sweet, salty, sour and slightly hot sauce is combined by whisking together brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, a couple squirts of chili-garlic sauce and a touch of that rich toasted sesame oil. Since we needed to take the picture, I decided to serve the sauce in a little dish so the crispy-coated asparagus wouldn't get soggy during that process - I recommend that you may want to do they same just so you or your guests can determine how much of that intense drizzle to add. The asparagus was tender with a slight bend, yet not too soft and mushy - the sesame and fresh ginger combination did not disappoint and that panko coating added such a fun new dimension with its golden color and crunchy texture.

While that asparagus dish did have a bit of prep and assembly work to be done, the protein portion of our dinner tonight, Spicy Apricot-Glazed Chicken, had a minimal 5 ingredient list, which includes salt and fresh ground black pepper in the total!

All you need to do for this dish is season a few chicken breasts, set them under a broiler and halfway through brush them with a fruity glaze consisting of apricot jam and crushed red pepper. How easy is that? Because of the higher sugar content in the jam, stick with adding the shiny glaze at the half-point mark so it doesn't burn under the intense heat of the broiler. Slightly sweet, while staying juicy and tender, this really isn't much of a recipe I guess. However, I have a feeling we'll be making this often when I'm testing out a new side and we need to serve a solid, but simple and quick-to-prepare protein dish.


8 comments:

  1. It's always nice to see another way to prepare asparagus. Growing up, we ate asparagus breaded and fried - heaven on earth! I can see adapting your technique with the panko to bake rather than fry....

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  2. Love asparagus - how timely that I just picked up another huge bunch at the store :) and love panko (I buy whole wheat panko at Trader Joe's - sooo good!) Any my hubby loves anything with mayo, so this recipe looks like a winner to me! I'll bet it was perfect with that chicken...

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  3. DavidinBerkeley8/25/2008 05:46:00 PM

    9 new recipes? Holy springforms, Batman!

    I made apple crisp last weekend and a roast chicken, along with my usual lunches for the whole week (batch of corn muffins and baked potatoes). My kitchen was blitzed afterwards and I had to retire to the divan for a rest. I barely got through cleaning up over the next couple of days.

    Do you have elves on staff? Or a self-loading, walk-in dishwasher?

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  4. Quinn - Give it a try sometime!

    Gigi - I like whole wheat panko too, but sometimes find it a bit too coarse.

    David - I wish ;-) I even washed all the dishes by hand!

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  5. I cannot WAIT to try that chicken. I have homemade apricot jam just begging to be used.

    By the by, I'm awarding you an 'I *heart* Your Blog' Award!!

    http://gottalittlespacetofill.blogspot.com/2008/08/somebody-hearts-me.html

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  6. That asparagus sounds intriguing! I will have to give it a try next time the asparagus looks good at the store.

    Courtney

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  7. THAT is a beautiful, tummy rumbling dinner! merci, merci!

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  8. Mama Bear - Thank you for the award!

    Courtney - Let us know what you think!

    Katrina - Thanks!

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