Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chicken and Asparagus Over Wild Rice

chicken and aspargus over wild rice
When one thinks of Minnesota, many things come immediately to mind: cold air, 10,000 lakes, Prince, the Twins, MacGyver, and cold, cold air (did I mention that already?). What many people don't know is that there are many good wineries in Minnesota, and Minnesotan food is actually pretty good, despite the famously gross dish called Ludefisk. Minnesota's state grass is Northern wild rice, which is not really rice. Wild rice is basically the seeds of a grass that grows in shallow water. Wild rice is high in protein, the amino acid lysine and dietary fiber, and low in fat, and it does not contain gluten. Because of this, you must cook it twice a long as you would regular rice, and with a lot more water. Nevertheless, I think you'll enjoy the nutty flavor that this "seed" has, and the authentic flavor of Minnesotan cooking!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup Northern Wild Rice
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine, such as a pinot gris or sauvegnon blanc
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  1. To prepare the wild rice: rinse and drain the rice. Add to 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender, about 45 to 55 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
  2. Slice chicken into strips about 1/4 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches long. Liberally season them with salt and pepper.
  3. Wash asparagus, trim off tough ends and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Heat one tablespoon oil in large skillet on medium-high. When hot, add the shallots and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add chicken pieces. Cook 2 - 3 minutes one one side, turn, and cook another minute or two, or until no pink remains. Lastly, add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Spoon chicken mixture into a bowl, including any juices in the pan.
  5. Add remaining one tablespoon of oil into pan and add asparagus and cook, stirring for several minutes, until asparagus is bright green, about 5 minutes. Add wine to asparagus and cook, stirring, until liquid evaporates. Remove asparagus and add it to the chicken in bowl.
  6. Remove pan from heat. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of cold milk and a tablespoon of cornstarch, stirring until smooth to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the pan; add remaining 1 cup chicken stock and return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 - 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Stir in chicken and asparagus to sauce and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes to heat through.
  8. To serve: put cooked wild rice on a serving dish, arrange chicken mixture on top, drizzle with lemon juice, and serve.

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