When in Britain, indulge in British Asparagus – Well, I wish I could say this all year round. British Asparagus is only in season for a short 7-8 weeks from May to June in summer. Good things don’t last for too long do they? For now, we’d just have to make do with the supermarket varieties that are slightly less tasty than asparagus in its full blooming season.
For the unacquainted, asparagus is an incredibly prized young shoot, a cousin of the lily plant. Commonly known as the king of the vegetable world, it’s widely raved about for its tender stems and delicate sweet flavour. It’s an expensive delicacy no matter the variety (green, white, purple, sprue and more), but considerably tastier and fresher (of course!) in the UK than in Singapore and other non-asparagus producing countries. It’s awesome just eaten its own, but we took it further and paired this full-flavoured treat with chicken, Hollandaise sauce and butter, all rolled up into little pillows of joy! Enjoy the step by-step recipe below :)
——————————————————————————————————————–Ingredients for Garlic & Thyme Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Rolls: Serves 4
Garlic & Thyme Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Rolls
Chicken thigh fillets approx 800g (substitute this with breast meat if you desire)
Asparagus approx 300 – 400g, boiled and blanched
Garlic, chopped and pre-fried
Fresh Thyme 15g, stalks removed
Mild Olive Oil
Baguette slices, toasted
Hollandaise sauce (we used a store-bought variety from Marks & Spencer)
Toothpicks, to hold the chicken rolls together
Step-By-Step: Garlic & Thyme Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken Rolls
Step 1: Marinating & flavouring the chicken thighs
Rub the thigh fillets with olive oil and sea salt generously and leave to marinate for 15-30 minutes in the fridge. The salt enhances the flavour of the chicken while the oil helps to keep the meat succulent and tender – An essential step because the chicken rolls are essentially cooked twice in this recipe (seared then baked).
It’ll help to remove excess chicken fat before starting on cooking – Lest the chicken rolls become too greasy, since chicken thighs are considerably more fatty than breast meat. Top with fresh thyme leaves. Smells like heaven in a bowl!
Add chopped garlic that’s been fried to a light golden-brown perfection. Lightly cooked garlic is key, as you don’t want your garlic bits to be charcoal-burnt during the searing step later (more on this below)
Step 2: Boiling & blanching asparagus stemsPresenting to you… Asparagus that’s been boiled for 2-3 minutes (don’t overcook them or they’ll lose that sweet nutty flavour), then blanched in ice-water to retain its vibrant green colour and crunchy texture.
Fun fact: I discovered that asparagus has genders too! The female plants develop more spears than the male plants, but the stems are smaller in diameter. Can you spot the females / males in this picture? Well, I can’t. Haha!
Take just enough stems for them to be wrapped neatly without any spillage of the thyme or garlic bits… That works out to be about 2-3 stems per chicken roll.
Step 4: Pan-searing chicken rolls
The frying might get a bit messy with the chopped garlic bits within – Omit them if you want a hassle-free searing experience, but I love my garlic so I’m keeping them there! It helps not to burn the garlic when you’re pre-frying them so you’d avoid an unhappy situation of burnt garlic bits.
Step 5: Off into the oven they go!
At this point, the chicken rolls are merely seared – That means, cooked on the outside but not thoroughly on the inside. If you’re wondering why we even have to sear the chicken rolls, the searing is essential as it seals in the juices (the chicken rolls will remain moist and juicy). Baking them further in the oven will cook them thoroughly.
Place chicken rolls on a large flat baking tray lined with aluminium foil, and bake at Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes, until chicken meat is thoroughly cooked. (How to check? Poke the meat with a fork and it should come off easily without sticking. And obviously, when there is no more red blood or too-pink soft flesh)
Step 5: Off into my stomach they come! Top & serve