What is there not to love about asparagus? To me it always looks so elegant that I’ve deemed it the king of greens.
It is such a pity that British asparagus is only available two months, May and June, of the year. The flavour, deep and complex, is simply the best when eaten locally because of the UK’s temperate climate and slower growing. Contrary to imported asparagus that loses its flavour on the way to the island, locally grown ones are never older than two days when it reaches your plate.
When you are buying asparagus, look for lush, firm stems instead of wrinkly, bendy ones. Just like sweet corn cobs, the sugars turn into starch as soon as it is picked, so eat them quickly.
Sometimes when cooking I’m guilty of nibbling them raw. It’s the fresh, crunchy, pea-like flavour I enjoy so much! If there are any left by the end of my
munching chopping session, they are usually lightly steamed and afterwards seasoned and covered with melted butter. You really don’t need to adulterate it with spices and sauces. Savour the taste!
Chicken Breast Strips and Pancetta with Asparagus
Preparation: 10 mins – Cooking: 15 mins
- 2 chicken breasts, boned and skinned
- 10 asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
- 15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
- 70g (2½ oz) pancetta, cubed or sliced
- salt and black pepper
- Place each breast between two sheets of clear film and flatten to a thickness of 5mm/¼ inch with a rolling pin. Cut into 2.5cm/1 inch strips diagonally. Season.
- Boil the asparagus in salted water until just tender. Drain and set aside.
- Put the pancetta in a large frying pan with the oil. Stir over a low heat until the fat runs. Remove the pancetta from the pan, increase the heat and fry the chicken in the pancetta fat until lightly coloured.
- Lower the heat. Add the asparagus to the pan, and stir thoroughly to make sure everything is covered in the fat/oil. Carry on cooking until the chicken is done.
- Serve immediately and sprinkle the pancetta on top.
- Steamed new potatoes make a good starchy side dish.