Chicken can be an easy go to after a hard day but if you’re not a Michelin rated chef it can get boring rather quick. Here’s an easy week night meal that will please the whole family. The chicken and asparagus are prepared in one dish which makes clean up a breeze. Bite for bite this dish is full of flavor and satisfaction.
To make whipping up a satisfying week night meal easy, it’s best to review all the steps you need to work through as well as assemble all your ingredients ahead of time. If you aren’t too comfortable with prepping and cooking at the same time don’t sweat it. The pros make it look so easy on television but their skills come after years and years of practice. It won’t ruin anything to do your cleaning and chopping before you start cooking. Sure, it may add a few minutes onto the whole shebang but it will be worth in the end when things come out just right rather than extra crispy.
To keep the prep and cook time down it’s best to opt for skinless, boneless chicken breasts. This is a quick meal so doing so will help expiate things. The small sacrifice of flavor the skin and bone imparts will more than be made up for. Fresh asparagus is also key to this recipe so don’t cut corners with anything else! The same goes for the parsley. Dried herbs pack more intense flavor but can taste dull and dusty if not cooked long enough. The goal here is for a fresh and light meal that packs a punch without a lot of fuss.
Keeping things flowing with minimal interruption is also why you’ll want to preheat your oven. If you’ve decided to prep all of your ingredients ahead of time I would suggest to filet your chicken last and start your oven preheating just before you start on the chicken. The goal is not not have to stand around and wait for your oven to reach the proper temperature.
While freshness is what we’re looking for out of the herbs, it might seem warranted to use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Fresh garlic could be used but it would require a bit of extra prep work. Also, as I mentioned before, we want a flavor punch. Garlic powder will do wonders in kicking things up. Just don’t be tempted to add too much more than what the recipe calls for. It really does pack some intense garlic flavor. Just a little dab will do you! If you want to add just one more subtle layer of depth to the flavor try using smoked paprika instead of regular. The smokiness is not very strong but it will make a delicious difference!
The prep work for the fresh asparagus and parsley really is a breeze. For the asparagus, all you want to do is get rid of the tough, woody ends. Pinch the asparagus starting at the bottom and stop when you feel just a tiny bit more give. This will let you know roughly how much to trim off so your asparagus turns out nice and tender.
For the parsley, trim off the majority of the non-leafy stem and discard it. Run your knife through what remains to give it a rough to fine chop. I prefer it a bit on the rough side vs fine, but this is totally up to what you desire. While most recipes will tell you to strip off the leaves and discard the entire stem portion, this really isn’t required. Not only does doing this add a bit of unnecessary prep work, the stem portions of non-woody herbs contain just as much flavor as the leaves. Again, this is really left up to what you prefer.
Now, you may ask, if the goal is to eliminate unnecessary prep to save time on a busy week night, way are we slicing up the chicken? Yes, getting rid of some prep work may help to speed things up initially, but you do not want to end up adding extra time later while cooking. By slicing the chicken breasts horizontally into thinner filets it shortens the time required to cook it to a safe temperature. This also lets the chicken cook all the way through in the same time as the asparagus. Eliminating steps can help from time to time. Just make sure you won’t regret leaving them out later on.
Now that the chicken is trimmed down to a more manageable size, season it and lay it out in an oiled baking dish. Then layer the asparagus on top. Remember what I said about wanting the chicken and asparagus to cook in the same amount of time? The thinner filets lets us cook them together in the same dish without under cooking the chicken or overcooking the asparagus. This also allows all that flavor to seep into both the chicken and the asparagus giving us more of the punch we’re looking for.