This recipe is very easy to make ahead and can be cooked either in the oven or on the hob. Served with rice or baby new potatoes, this would make a perfect dinner party dish.
1. Preheat the oven (if not cooking this dish on the hob) to 180C/160Fan/Gas 4.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a large, deep ovenproof frying pan or flameproof casserole dish. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and fry in the hot fat for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Its best to do this in two batches if they don’t all fit in one pan. Brown the shallots at the same time and remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Measure the flour into a bowl, whisk in 8 tbsp stock and mix until smooth. Bring the remaining stock to the boil, then pour in the blended stock. Add chopped thyme and return the chicken and shallot to the pan. Cover with a lid and either cook in the oven for 20 minutes or gently simmer over a medium heat on the hob for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Just before serving, trim the asparagus tips and slice the stem into short, even lengths. Cook the asparagus tips and sliced stems in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes. Drain, reserving the 12 asparagus tips for garnishing the finished dish.
5. Stir in the lemon juice, crème fraiche and parsley into the pan with the chicken.
6. Add the sliced asparagus to the pan, bring to the boil, remove the chicken and slice each breasts into three and arrange on a plate. Toss 12 asparagus tips in little butter and arrange two asparagus tips in a cross on the top.
Extracted from Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites by Mary Berry (BBC Books, hardback £25)
Photography by Georgia Glynn Smith.