Braised Chicken with Artichokes, Leeks and Tarragon

We’ve had a unusually warm Spring here and our city is exploding with blossoms.
Mothers day came and went, and the dogwood I planted bursted in white, shouting, I’m still here. The Lilies of the Valley returned quietly, laden with tiny white bells, unbelievably fragrant. 

I’ve been thinking about flowers lately. 
How quickly they bloom… and then go – their sole purpose being opening, 
becoming fully what they are, no matter how temporary.

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.

But today at least, I feel willing.

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.

Prepare a bowl of cold water with lemon juice. This will keep the artichoke hearts from browning. Working quickly, one artichoke at a time, snap off the tough outer petals.  I like to save mine for the next day, in a zip lock bag. These can be blanched, marinated and then grilled for a tasty side or  appetizer. Here is a marinade for grilled artichokes that I use repeatedly with good success.
Once the tough green petals are snapped off, you will see silky yellow petals which must come off too. Just pull them off with your fingers. Remember to work quickly to prevent browning.

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.

Nestle chicken thighs 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. If not crisp enough, place under the broiler for a few minutes.
When it comes out, it will be fragrant and delicious. Serve with crusty bread, a salad and white wine.
Thanks for reading! For more Feasting at Home … 


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Braised Chicken Thighs with Artichoke Hearts and Tarragon -Serves 4
by sylvia fountaine, feasting at home May-11-2013
Crispy chicken with fresh artichoke hearts with fresh tarragon
6 to 8 pieces -whole chicken or bone in chicken thighs with skin
1 T olive oil
2 T butter
Kosher Salt
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

thanks for sharing!
thanks for sharing!


  1. Anonymous says

    Sounds delicious! Any suggestions for a substitute for the half-and-half to keep this dairy-free?

  2. says

    Would chicken breasts work well in this recipe? My husband has an aversion to chicken thighs for some reason… and this dish looks too good to pass up!

    • says

      Yes…chicken breasts would work great too- just be sure to not overcook (internal temp 160F). Often I just cut up a whole organic chicken into pieces. Fish like halibut would be good too.

  3. says

    This looks so fresh, healthful and delicious! I have a few whole-body chickens in my freezer, so I’ll be trying out your recipe soon!!

  4. Steinway59 says

    Just adapted this for my diet-restricted 90 y.o. mother but it rocked; she’s French and hard to please.!
    Had to omit potatoes; chk breasts, fresh garden sage, pinch thyme, frzn. artichoke and leeks (TJ’s), plus onion & garlic, vermouth + rich home-made chk broth, lemon juice & zest, dijon mustard. She can’t have straight dairy, but I pulled most of the liquid after baking (350º) and stirred in plain ‘Fage’ greek yogurt to thicken. (It doesn’t curdle at high temps). Tasted like cream. Happy finicky camper! Thanks for this

  5. Anonymous says

    We used drum sticks, replaced potatoes with baby bella mushrooms, skipped the 1/2 and 1/2 and didn’t have fennel seeds. IT WAS AMAZING. Thank you for this versatile and impossible to mess up recipe!

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