by MELISSA GORDON
Remember the first snowfall of the season? How magical it seemed, how beautiful and delicate it was, how it drew out your 10-year-old self as you ran outside to play? It’s nothing like March snow, fully curse-inducing, unsightly, transforming you into a curmudgeon who wants only to stay inside and lock the door.
That first snow came in like a dear old friend you hadn’t seen in awhile. Joyfully you embraced him, marveling at what great exercise shoveling is. This last snow is but a tiresome houseguest who has overstayed his welcome (despite less than subtle hints). “I wouldn’t even be doing this if not for the fine,” you grumble, as you head out to shovel, again.
A snow day in November? Hooray! Snow forts and rosy cheeks and hot cocoa by the fire! A snow day in March? C’mon! The kids’ll be fine! I have work to do and I want to get them out of my hair.
But in the end, every snowflake in October is whispering hello, while each snowflake in March is bidding a farewell.
What does any of this have to do with food? Asparagus is here! I saw it with my very own eyes. And asparagus means spring as sure as pumpkins mean Halloween. So even if you don’t like to eat it, you should at least stop in the co-op and look at it. Its very presence extends hope, assuring us that change is nigh and snow doesn’t last forever.
Chicken and Asparagus with Melted Gruyere
Adapted slightly from EatingWell.com
• 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces
• 2/3 cup chicken broth
• 2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (1-1 1/4 pounds), trimmed
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 shallot, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 1/3 cup sour cream
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or one teaspoon dried
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 2/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add one inch of water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and steam for three minutes. Uncover, remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk broth and two teaspoons flour in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
Place the remaining 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, three to four minutes per side, adjusting heat as needed to prevent scorching. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Add shallot, wine and the reserved broth mixture to the pan; cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened, about two minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in sour cream, tarragon, lemon juice and the reserved asparagus until combined. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top of each piece of chicken, cover and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, about two minutes.