Asparagus with Chicken and Lemon Cream Sauce

I am obsessed with making this lately. I don't when exactly it started. I don't know how. I don't know why. All I know is that asparagus has been on sale, and this is the way I want to eat it. Cream sauces are not something I grew up eating. My mother is very conscientious about her weight, so we only had heavy cream in the house for Thanksgiving when she would always make quiche and cheesecake. Heavy cream was basically forbidden, which is why I always feel a bit naughty when I cook with it. I've been very naughty the past few weeks. This pasta is the culmination of decadent foods that I can guiltlessly enjoy while I'm single. No one around to complain if my pee smells funny from asparagus. I can put handfuls of garlic in with no complaints. I get to use my favorite pasta shapes (medium shells or rotini, if they are reachable on the grocery store shelf). It also travels well. You can add other vegetables as well. I think this would be good with mushrooms and parsley too. Maybe peas also.

Asparagus with Chicken and Lemon Cream Sauce
Makes about 6 servings

1 lb pasta
6 Tbs butter, separated
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
about 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1" pieces
about 1/4 cup flour
1 pint heavy cream
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

1. Boil water for the pasta and cook it while you're doing everything else.

2. Heat 2 Tbs butter over low-medium heat in a large skillet. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and gently saute until the garlic starts releasing its delicious smells.

3. Add the chicken boobs and increase the heat to medium. Once the chicken is cooked (white not pink), add the asparagus stemmy parts. Saute until they turn a deeper green. (I err on the side of less cooked than more cooked for my veggies.) Add the asparagus crowns. Turn off heat.

4. Heat 4 Tbs (half a stick) of butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour. You can increase the heat some here if you get impatient. Stir the flour in the butter and keep stirring. You are making a roux. Every food made with roux is decadent. Stir until the roux gets slightly golden. Slowly add the cream while stirring or whisking to prevent lumps. At this point, your pasta is probably cooked and ready to be drained.

5. Heat and stir the cream mixture until smooth. Slowly add the lemon juice while stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste. My palate favors lots of garlic with lots of pepper and not so much salt. Add chicken and asparagus mixture. Stir together your saucy bits and adjust spices. Now stir the saucy bits with the pasta bits.


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