Chicken in a Love Nest with Asparagus Almondine
Show them how much you love 'em ... they'll think you worked all day on this meal!
- 1/2 bunch asparagus
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
- 2 organic chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- A splash of white wine or sherry
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, preferred brands Dufour Pastry or Pepperidge Farm, defrosted and cut in half then in half again so you have 2 squares
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- 6 thin slices of brie cheese
- 1/4 cup almonds
Yields: 2 servings
Preheat oven to 375°F with the oven rack in the middle. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Once the water has come to a boil, drop in the asparagus and cook until just tender. Remove them from the boiling water using tongs and place them into a large bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking any further. Once cooled, completely remove them from the ice water, cut each spear into 3 pieces then place them on a paper towel-lined platter to dry.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon EVOO, about one turn of the pan. Season the chicken breasts with salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme and lemon zest. Add the seasoned chicken breasts to the hot skillet to brown, about 2 minutes each side, until nice and golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and reserve.
To the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO, 1 tablespoon butter and the mushrooms. Cook until slightly brown and tender, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the Dijon mustard and wine, and cook until there is almost no liquid left in the pan. Remove the mushrooms from heat and reserve.
While the mushrooms are cooking, place the pastry on a clean and flat work surface area. Position them on an angle so they are facing you in the shape of two diamonds.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg and water with a fork until well-combined. Brush the outer edge of each sheet of pastry with a bit of the egg wash to help to secure all the yummyness inside the lovenest!
Place 3 slices of brie in the middle of each sheet of puff pastry and top with a chicken breast.
Spoon some mushrooms over the chicken, then fold it up into a neatly formed package: Fold two opposite points of the diamond shape in towards one another over the chicken breast, pinching lightly to secure. Repeat with the other two points of the diamond, pinching gently to make all that all the seams are sealed shut.
(For a special presentation, cut out little heart shapes out of any remaining dough. Secure them on the dough with egg wash, then top the hearts with a bit more egg wash.)
Brush the oustide of each packet with egg wash and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Brush each with the remaining egg wash and transfer to the oven on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is a beautiful golden brown.
When the chicken has about 5 minutes left, preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the remaining butter then add the chopped asparagus to the pan. Sauté for 2-3 minutes then toss in the almonds and cook until almonds are golden brown.
Serve the Chicken In Love Nests alongside a mound of Asparagus Almondine and enjoy!
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