what should I make for dinner?
March 5, 2019 8:13 AM   Subscribe

I have some ingredients that need to be used up and a vague idea of what I want to make but I need some hive mind input. Please help me!

My ingredients are as follows:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Fresh asparagus
Near East Original Rice Pilaf Mix (rice and orzo with an onion, garlic, turmeric spice mix)

I think I want to make some sort of chicken and rice dish (maybe a casserole? maybe just baked chicken and rice?) with asparagus.

I have flour, salt, pepper, other spices available. I also have 2% milk. I unfortunately do not have any chicken stock, broth, bouillon, or condensed soup. If absolutely necessary I could go out and buy some but I am on a work deadline and taking time out to shop would be difficult. However I'll do it if the ingredients above do not suffice.

My SO doesn't really like heavily spicy or seasoned foods, nor does he like anything cheesy or heavily creamy. I do like those things but I'm also ok with eating foods with a lighter touch seasoning-wise and I'm trying to stay away from cheesy or overly creamy sauces due to some recent dairy-related stomach issues.

I am not the most imaginative cook, nor am I particularly experienced in the kitchen, so any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by thereemix to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh I also have grated Parmesan cheese.
posted by thereemix at 8:25 AM on March 5, 2019

If I had those ingredients, and the particular needs/wants of both of you, here's what I would do.

Put the chicken breasts between pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper and pound them until they're thin and the same relative size. This will make them cook much faster and reduce the chance of them drying out.

Start the rice pilaf and set your oven to 450 F.

Trim your asparagus and toss it with olive oil (or vegetable oil) and salt and pepper. Place it on a baking sheet in one layer. Once your oven is at 450, put the asparagus in.

Brush your chicken breasts with olive oil (or veg oil), and season with salt and pepper. Place in a hot nonstick skillet. Cook, undisturbed, for about 5-8 minutes. Turn and repeat.* If you have chopped garlic, add a couple tablespoons now. If you have white wine, add a glug or two once the garlic has cooked for about a minute. If you do use wine, let it simmer for a couple of minutes to get the alcohol harshness out (it won't cook out totally; that's a myth). Either way, with or without garlic/wine, cover the skillet for a minute or two. I can tell when chicken is done by look and feel but if you want to be sure, either cut open a piece to see if it's done or check the temp (it should be at 160F).

*Check your asparagus, give it a shake or turn the spears with tongs. Place back in oven. Give it another couple of minutes, or more if you prefer your asparagus a little on the mushy side.

That's it! Serve the chicken with the rice or on top, and same for the asparagus.
posted by cooker girl at 8:28 AM on March 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Do you have lemon? I usually love pretty much every lemon chicken recipe I try. Here's one that looks good for your ingredient list (serve the rice on the side): 5 ingredient lemon chicken with asparagus — but there are a TON of recipes for lemon chicken breasts. If you find something you like that calls for some chicken broth, you can usually substitute water, and add a bit more salt, a dab of butter, and/or a splash of white wine, or a touch of soy or teriyaki sauce. But just plain water is not going to wreck most recipes, unless it's somehow a really integral aspect (risotto).
posted by taz at 9:24 AM on March 5, 2019

I would poach the chicken breasts in water for 15 minutes, then cook them on top of the pilaf, covered, using the poaching broth as the liquid for the rice. I've added partially cooked chicken when I make rice pilaf, easy and tasty. They will finish cooking and you'll have chicken and rice. I love roasted asparagus so would roast it as cooker girl recommends.
posted by theora55 at 9:33 AM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

If it was me, I'd do chicken and rice in one pan, and cook the asparagus separately.

Chop two breasts into small bite-size pieces. If you have onions, carrots, celery, or green peppers in the fridge, take out a few — any combination will taste good, just use what you have — and chop those up too. (If you don't have any of those things, it's fine.)

Cook the vegetables (if you have any) in a few tablespoons of butter until they're tender, then add the chicken and cook for a few minutes. Add the rice mix to that, and as much water as the package calls for, and cover it and cook until the rice is done. Since the chicken was chopped in small pieces, it will also be done at this point.

Meanwhile, the asparagus. My favorite thing to do with it is basically the same as cooker girl's method: toss it with a glug of oil and a few shakes of salt and pepper, and put it in a very hot oven — under the broiler if you have one, or in a 500-degree oven if you don't. It will just need a few minutes at this temperature, and will brown up a little bit and get nicely savory without going limp.

If you're a no-food-touching person, serve them side by side. If you're a food-touching person, putting the asparagus over the chicken-and-rice is a nice touch. Another nice touch, if you have lemons or lemon juice, is to sprinkle everything with a little lemon juice.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:36 AM on March 5, 2019

Oven roasted is simple and yummy as has been suggested, and it has significantly shorter cook time than chicken or pilaf so doing it separately is smart regardless. I always prefer asparagus with a little acidity to it, so either a few minutes before it's done or right after you've taken it off the heat sprinkle on some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or my mom's favorite of sherry or champagne vinegar. If that seems too sharp you can mellow it out with an additional sprinkling of olive oil or melted butter.

If it were me I'd cook the pilaf according to package instructions because honestly those things have the seasoning balance really on-point.

For the chicken breasts, I agree that pounding them flat is a smart idea to encourage even cooking. You can butterfly them before pounding which will make it faster and easier, if you're comfortable with that knife skill. Do you have any kind of bread crumb? Panko is best I think but practically any dried bread/cracker/cereal product can be whirred up in a blender or stuck in a bag and bashed with a blunt object to make crumbs. Then make oven baked crispy parmesan chicken.

Preheat oven to 425F. Prep your dredging/breading stuff, separate bowls or plates of: flour seasoned with salt and pepper, beaten egg (probably one egg per whole breast), and breadcrumb liberally mixed with grated parmesan. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and a spray/shmear of vegetable oil. Cut and pound your chicken. Dredge pieces in the flour, shake off excess. Dip floury pieces in the egg. Drop eggy pieces onto breadcrumbs, and gently press them into the chicken all over. Pop those onto your baking sheet and cook for about 20-30 minutes in the oven or until the chicken is cooked in the middle and the coating is toasty crispy looking. You can roast the asparagus halfway into this in the same oven if you have the space. Doing this is more work than a pan saute or poaching, but you can walk away from it and I think the texture component of the crunch is a really significant increase in yumminess that would make it worth it for me.
posted by Mizu at 10:52 AM on March 5, 2019

"My SO doesn't really like heavily spicy or seasoned foods, nor does he like anything cheesy or heavily creamy."


Oh wait, food question, not relationship. If I were you with those conditions, I'd put the chicken and asparagus into their own little foil packets and just bake them together. Works with any vegetable mix, even canned, but fresh is better. Each packet can be seasoned individually so you can make some good and some bland. Chicken and veggies backed in foil will be nice and juicy, flavorful and should pair well with the rice pilaf made as instructed on packaging.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:40 AM on March 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

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