Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce

Story by Natalie
Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce
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It’s April of 2016. As of this month I have now been a mother for 5.5 years (6.5 if you count pregnancy), a wife for 7, a homemaker for 9 and a cook for at least 15. Using all those numbers makes me sound so impressive, right? Yet, I still feel pretty helpless when it comes to juggling too many things at once. There's just way too many things. So many things.

See, the thing is, I used to be good at this. Like really, really good. At one point in my life I worked a 40 hour week, went to school full time, AND remodeled a house with my big sister. I was painting stripes on a bathroom wall at 1:00 am, brush in one hand and notes for a final in the other. It never even phased me that I had to be up at 6am to make it to school on time and would then have to rush off for a full work day, which I’m sure was followed by some social event and another late night. I was a machine. A train that never stopped moving.


It's the perfect meal to make at the end of a busy day, to enjoy and recharge, and rest however that might look for you.

Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce

And then. And then, I had kids. Yep. Three of them. Then I turned 30. Then we decided to take on a huge remodel. Then I started a business. Then my husband’s schedule became extremely demanding and then, blame it on whatever you want...my head just became a chaotic mess and my engine stopped moving. I have a tendency to be really hard on myself so this hasn’t been easy. In the midst of all of this I flew down to LA to celebrate the release of my brother in law’s book, Unreasonable Hope. It's a story of hope that was born out of the life sentence diagnosis my niece Georgia received when she was an infant, and it’s powerful stuff.

Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce
Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce

At the book release party that night, I got the letter G tattooed on my wrist in celebration of who Georgia is, all that she will be and how much I love her. Later that night, I was listening to my brother share from his book, and as I stared at the tattoo I realized it was about much more than Georgia. This tattoo would serve as a reminder that everyday I have the choice to fight the chaos of life in my own strength or to allow my soul to rest in the goodness of all that I’ve been given, all that I’m surrounded by, and all that is yet to come. It was a real eye opener for me and the way I had been looking at life, and feeling out of control and under-equipped.

When I got home, I realized that no matter the cost I needed to find rest. For me, this meant I needed to start enjoying my life more. It’s been a long time since I’ve shared my table with people I love. Fed them, laughed with them, cried with them, and got real. I’m starting to realize that rest, for me, comes in the company of others. I know this isn't true for everyone, but it is for me. I needed to find the balance of fellowshipping with others, without “hosting” becoming just another chore in my very long, and at times overwhelming, to-do list.

Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce

And so, last weekend when we had finally finished our basement remodel, we moved the piles of accumulated clutter out of our dining room in order to allow others in. I cooked up a bunch of delicious food, we packed the house full of people we love, we ate, we laughed and my soul was finally able to rest.

I’m still not great at juggling everything at once, but at least now, I'm learning to rest. I so wish that despite the chaos of my messy house I had embraced this rest sooner. Thrown off the pretext of perfection and just RESTED. Rested in friends, in family, in food, in comfort and all that is good, even when all wasn’t PERFECT

Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce

If you haven’t yet caught on, Holly and I are on a quest to inspire others that however crazy (or quiet...because that's a thing too) your life may be, finding time to eat with others should always be a priority. This baked chicken dish with olives and tomatoes, that impressively can be made in under an hour, is roasted in a tangy white wine mustard sauce that thickens as it cooks. Because it’s spring we added asparagus, our favorite green friend, into the dish. It's served over a bed of brown rice with a bit of fancy stuff added in for extra flavor. All together, this meal is hearty, homey, and simple, but the complexity of the flavor pairings and elegant ingredients make it feel oh so special. It's the perfect meal to make at the end of a busy day, to enjoy and recharge, and rest however that might look for you. For me, I've  learned that I'm most fully at rest when in the company of others, and this meal is proof positive that that doesn't mean I have to break my back to break bread with those I love.

Baked Chicken With Asparagus, olives and tomatoes in a white wine sauce

Serves 4

Chicken

3 lbs bone in skin on chicken thighs
salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed
6 medium sized shallots, quartered
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup whole kalamata olives, pitted

Rice

1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup brown rice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel. Generously salt and pepper both side of chicken. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet, dutch oven or other oven proof skillet, over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken skin side down until skin is golden brown about 8 minutes. Flip chicken thighs over and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove chicken from pan, set aside on a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add shallots to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until slightly browned. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minutes longer. Add whole sprigs of thyme, wine, and mustard, stirring until ingredients have combined. Reduce wine sauce for 3-5 minutes before adding cherry tomatoes & olives. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Add chicken to pan skin side up and place in the hot oven for 35 minutes.
  5. Trim the stems and toss the asparagus in olive oil. Set aside.
  6. When the timer has 10 minutes left, pull the chicken out and add the asparagus to the pan. Put it back in the over for the remaining time.
  7. While your chicken is cooking make the brown rice using a medium sized pot. Sauté the shallot and garlic for 3 minutes until slightly browned and tender. Add chicken stock and rice and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve the chicken over rice with the vegetables. Using a spoon pour the wine sauce over the dish and enjoy!