Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Someone Has To Go First
You really have to admire the first person who tried eating an artichoke. Artichokes are not a friendly looking food. In fact, I'm not sure artichokes really even look like food. But maybe to the caveman, or whoever first thought "maybe we can eat this", it was worth the risk.
Artichokes just don't look edible. The idea of dealing with those prickly leaves, and all that furry looking stuff around the heart well, it just doesn't scream "Eat Me!" to me.
But alas, someone did originally try artichokes. Whoever that was discovered they were quite tasty, or at least he discovered that you could actually eat one without dying. Kudos go out to that guy, but moreover, to the person who decided that dipping the leaves in melted butter would be a nice way to enjoy them. (Clearly a woman was responsible for that for sure.)
I also want to give a shout out to the person who first froze artichoke hearts. This is a cook (or maybe a scientist) after my own heart. Frozen artichoke hearts (which, btw, are actually called for in this recipe) make this, and many other recipes, a complete snap. In this recipe, you could substitute in canned artichoke hearts which would also work well. I suppose you could also go the purist route, and makes this recipe with fresh hearts, but why?
In any case, you should make this recipe. It's relatively quick and really nice for a weeknight dinner. And as you're enjoying your chicken, pour yourself a nice glass of wine, and toast the person who first thought "this could be good".
Recipe: Roast Chicken with Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts
4 chicken breast halves, skin on, boned if you like
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped fine
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock or broth (Use your best chicken stock -- you won't be sorry.)
1 1/2 cup frozen artichoke hearts (about 10), quartered, defrosted, and drained
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. (If you can, do this early in the day and refrigerate them, covered loosely. This will help the skin crisp up. But it's totally optional.) When you get home, take the breasts out of the refrigerator.
Heat oven to 375.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts skin side down. Cook 2-3 minutes until skin is golden brown. If you have boneless chicken breasts, brown all sides. Remove chicken breasts to oven-proof dish, and place in oven. Roast breasts for 15 (for boneless) to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
While chicken is roasting, sauté chopped shallots and mushrooms with a pinch of salt in oil and pan drippings (you may need to add a little more oil) until shallots are soft and mushrooms have begun to brown slightly and give off their liquid. Stir in flour and cook over medium-low heat until nutty and brown, stirring frequently, about 3-5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, and raise heat, until sauce begins to simmer and starts to reduce somewhat. Reduce heat to low and stir in artichoke hearts, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and rosemary. Stir together and cook over low heat until sauce thickens and is blended together and fragrant. Taste and add salt and black pepper as desired. You can turn the heat off and cover it till the chicken has finished roasting.
Just before serving, swirl in a tablespoon of butter if desired. When the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve each piece on a bed of sauce, making sure that each serving contains artichoke hearts and mushrooms.