Seasoning simply

Special to The Washington PostMarch 5, 2014 

Here’s proof that a one-pan dish can be elegant. Tarragon is the key flavor, but if you’re not a fan of that herb, thyme leaves can be substituted. Because there are so few ingredients, proficient seasoning is key.

Tarragon Chicken with Asparagus  •  Kosher salt

 •  1 pound asparagus spears (tough ends trimmed off), preferably of uniform thickness

 •  1 pound thin-sliced chicken cutlets, preferably 4 large ones

 •  Freshly ground black pepper

 •  1 tablespoon olive oil

 •  1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 •  1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

 •  1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth

 •  1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

 •  1/4 teaspoon sugar, or more as needed

 •  1/4 cup dry white wine

 •  2 teaspoons cornstarch

 •  1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Prepare a large bowl of water and ice.

Bring a medium saute pan or skillet of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus; cook until the asparagus is just tender yet still bright green, 3 to 4 minutes for thin spears, up to 8 minutes for thicker spears. Immediately transfer to the ice-water bath. After 5 minutes, drain the spears and cut each on the diagonal into 11/2-inch pieces.

Season the chicken cutlets lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil and butter in a large, nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the cutlets; you might have to do this in batches. Cook for about 3 minutes, until nicely browned, then turn the cutlets over and cook until browned on the second side and just cooked through. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the sliced onion and stir to coat. Cook for about 4 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the broth, mustard and sugar; whisk everything together and bring to a boil, increasing as needed. Taste, and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Transfer the chicken cutlets and asparagus pieces to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until warmed through.

Whisk together the wine and cornstarch in a liquid measuring cup, then add to the pan, stirring to form a slightly thickened sauce. Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the tarragon.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve hot.

Nutrition per serving: 240 calories, 29 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 140 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

Yield: Serves 4

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