I’ve been thinking about flowers lately.
Last evening, while walking through the lilac grove, smelling each one, I thought to myself (a little morbidly) that I probably only have forty more times, to experience this loveliness, if I’m lucky.
And suddenly all the blossoms and all the flower smells in the night air…seemed so much more important.
This morning, as I study at the sleepy blossoms outside my window,
I wonder, will I fully open? Knowing full and well – some things just can’t be forced, or rushed.
We are, what we are…when we are.
Through the years, I’ve been a witness to this in others- the gradual opening of those close to me. Watching them become more and more of who they are. It is a beautiful thing to behold. It moves me.
This chicken recipe sings of Spring with fresh artichoke hearts, tarragon and leeks. The star of this dish is easily fresh artichokes- and it’s best to save this recipe until they are in season and in abundance. Not only will they be less expensive, they will be at their peak.
Pieces of chicken are simply seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and seared in a skillet. In the same pan, fresh artichoke hearts are sauteed with leeks and baby potatoes, then de-glazed with vermouth (or white wine) and chicken stock. Fresh tarragon leaves and lemon zest are added along with a little cream. The chicken thighs are nestled down in this lovely Spring goodness, and it all goes in the oven for a bit. When it comes out, the chicken is juicy and crispy, and the artichokes flavorful and tender. A one pot meal.
Finally, you will get to the fine thread- like filaments. These are inedible, even when cooked, so using a spoon, firmly and gently pry them off.
If you get the edge of your spoon, in just the right spot, they will come off easily.
Once these are off, using a sharp paring knife, quickly trim the artichoke edges and stem- removing the tough skin of the stem and the bottom 1/2 inch or so. Immediately immerse in a bowl of cold lemon water, to help prevent browning.
You can cut a whole chicken into pieces, or use chicken thighs. Pat dry, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and sear in a hot skillet. I usually cook the bottom side longer than the tops, because the tops will brown in the oven, and you don’t want them overly brown. Once seared, set them aside.
After draining off some of the chicken fat, in the same pan, you will saute the leeks, artichokes and potatoes with a little butter.
For this dish, I use tiny baby potatoes, just cut in half. Whatever potatoes you use, make sure they are cut to about a 1/2 inch thick, so they cook to the proper done-ness.
When ready to saute the artichokes, pull them out of the lemon water and slice them to 1/4 inch thick.
Sometimes I’ll throw in some pearl onions. Mushrooms would taste good too. Or fresh English peas. Or caramelized fennel bulb. Make it your own.
This recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of fresh tarragon, which to me, pairs really well with artichoke hearts. But, if you are not a fan of tarragon, fresh sage is a really good alternative.
Once the artichokes, leeks and potatoes are just tender, after about 10 minutes, de-glaze with Vermouth (or white wine). Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add stock, lemon zest and fresh tarragon and a little half and half. Once simmering, give a quick stir and taste for salt. You may need to add a pinch of salt and pepper. Nestle chicken into it so the undersides are immersed in the liquid and skin sides are up. Place in a hot 425F oven for 20-30 minutes or until thighs register 180F or breasts reach 160F. If not crisp enough, place under the broiler for a few minutes.
1 T olive oil
2 T butter
4 large artichokes
1/4 C fresh tarragon leaves ( or fresh sage)
1 leek chopped ( or 1 Cup whole pearl onions)
2 Cups tiny potatoes halved ( 1/2 thick in pieces)
1 tsp whole grain mustard.
1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
1 Cup vermouth (or dry white wine)
1 C chicken stock
1/2 C half and half
Juice of one lemon and its zest ( set aside)
Other things you could add if you like (mushrooms, ramps, olives, fresh English peas, fennel bulb)
Zest the lemon, set zest aside. Prep the artichokes. Fill a med bowl with 4 cups cold water and juice from the lemon. Because artichokes will easily brown, work on one at a time as quickly as possible.. Snap off all the hard out leaves using your fingers. With a sharp paring knife, trim off all the outer green skin around the base and stem, keeping the stem in tact. Remove the yellowish soft leaves and using a spoon, gently scrape away the white or purple silk like threads. Immediately place in the lemon water, to prevent browning. Slice just before placing in the skillet.
Preheat oven to 425F. Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil in a heavy bottom oven proof skillet over med high heat. Place chicken skin side down and sear for just a few minutes (they will brown in the oven). Turn and brown undersides until golden, about 7-8 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Drain some of the chicken fat, leaving about 1 T in the pan. Add 1 more T butter. Add leeks ( or pearl onions), sliced artichokes and sliced potatoes. Saute on Med heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they just begin to soften. Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and pepper
Deglaze the pan with vermouth ( or white wine). Reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add stock, mustard and fennel seeds, half and half, 3/4 of the fresh tarragon and 3/4 of the zest. Give a stir, bring to a simmer, and taste broth adjusting salt and pepper. Nestle the chicken pieces into the stew with skin sides up, and roast in a hot 425 F oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden, and thigh internal temp is 180F, or breast internal temp is 160F. If doing a whole chicken, I will remove the breasts a little early and let the thighs continue to cook. If needed, broil for a couple minutes to get skin extra crispy. Garnish with lemon zest and fresh tarragon.
Total time: 1 1/4 hours Yield: 4