Usually I’m pretty modest (if not critical) when eating my own food, but tonight, I can honestly say that this dinner was something you could easily find in a restaurant — and it’s so basic. I had some chicken breasts staring at me from the fridge (what a conundrum) so I pulled out my trusty 3-ring binder of recipes and looked for something to cook under the “chicken” tab. This binder contains both tried and true recipes, and also new recipes that I want to get to eventually. I wanted something comforting enough to block out the “order pizza” chant that was in my head since about 3pm today. But, since we’re trying to watch what we eat, I wanted whatever we made for dinner to be fairly healthy and also pretty straightforward. While starches are a bit of a no-no for us right now, these fluffy, creamy, cheesy grits sure are a lot better than a large pizza. This is harm-reduction at its best. Like how I justified that?
Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Cheddar Grits and Roasted Asparagus
Just the Tip / Inspired by A Stack of Dishes
Here’s what I used:
For the grits:
- 3 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1 cup instant grits
- 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar
- freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken:
- olive oil
4 large chicken breasts-trimmed
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp finely minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tsp arrowroot starch (or you could use cornstarch dissolved in a bit of the broth)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- kosher salt, pepper
For the asparagus:
- 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
- kosher salt, pepper
- olive oil
Here’s what I did:
- Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- For the grits, bring the chicken broth and cream up to a boil in a large pot.
- Add the flour to a shallow dish. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Preheat a couple of tbsp of oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for the chicken.
- Once the chicken broth has come up to a bubble, slowly sprinkle the grits in while constantly whisking. Once incorporated, switch to a wooden spoon and stir every couple of minutes until thickened (will take about 20 minutes from start to finish). Season grits with pepper and stir in the cheese when you’re ready to serve the chicken.
- Meanwhile, lightly dredge each chicken breast in flour and add to the cast-iron skillet. Brown for 4-5 minutes on the first side until until deeply golden brown (don’t rush this!). Flip over and brown the other side for a couple of minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven until the internal temp of the chicken is 160. This is my secret to perfectly cooked chicken breasts — if you have one, insert the probe into the thickest part of the thickest chicken breast before placing in the oven. Put the asparagus pan in the oven at this point, too.
- Once the chicken has reached 160 degrees, remove the breasts to a plate and loosely cover with foil.
- Put the skillet back over medium high heat. Add a touch more olive oil if necessary, and toss in the garlic and rosemary. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the wine and chicken broth. Make sure to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan — these will add great flavor to your sauce. Bring up to a bubble and let reduce down until it creates a nice sauce. I whisked in a little arrowroot powder (a natural thickener) to help the process along. Once the sauce is at your desired consistency, add the lemon zest and juice and remove from heat. Serve the chicken with the grits and asparagus, and spoon sauce over top.