1/3 cup sliced almonds (a couple of handfuls)
1 quart chicken stock
1 lemon, zested
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 cups rice
1 1/2-1 3/4 pounds chicken breast cutlets (8 cutlets)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (1/3 palmful)
2 tablespoons plus about 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 1/3 pounds, a large bunch, asparagus spears, trimmed of tough ends
6-7 large button mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup half-and-half
1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon (a couple sprigs), leaves chopped
2 scallions, chopped
Toast almonds in a small skillet until golden. Set aside.
Bring 2 3/4 cups chicken stock, the zest of one lemon, thyme sprigs and a tablespoon of butter to a boil in a medium size pot with a tight fitting lid. Add rice to water, stir. Return the water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot. Cook 18 minutes or until tender, remove from heat. Remove the thyme sprigs– the leaves will have fallen off in the rice.
While the rice cooks, season chicken with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Dredge chicken in about half cup of flour, then discard the rest. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons EVOO, about two turns of the pan, and one tablespoon butter to the large skillet. To the hot butter and EVOO, add the cutlets and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the meat to a large platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a shallow pan and season with salt. Add asparagus and cook four minutes until just tender but green. Remove and add to chicken platter to keep warm.
Return chicken skillet to the heat and add two tablespoons butter. Melt butter, add the mushrooms and sauté for a couple of minutes. Whisk in two rounded tablespoons flour. Cook the flour one minute, then whisk in 1/3 cup white wine, a couple of glugs. Cook off wine, about 30 seconds, then whisk in 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock (remainder of the quart) followed by the half-and-half. When sauce bubbles, stir in mustard and tarragon and let sauce simmer and thicken, 2-3 minutes.
Stir scallions into rice and fluff with fork. Make a bed of rice on each dinner plate. Top with a serving of steamed asparagus, then two cutlets of chicken. Cover the chicken with the tarragon sauce, allowing the gravy to spill over edges into asparagus and rice. Sprinkle the plates with toasted nuts.