Thursday, April 22, 2010

One More Artichoke Recipe & a Simple Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast

I say "one more" artichoke recipe, but in reality there is every likelihood that I will post more before their season is over. My previous recipes used roasted artichokes and gently stewed artichokes. Tonight I braised them with some potatoes and the last of my spring onions from the market. It's only Wednesday and I have gone through everything I purchased at the market except for some salad greens and the rhubarb—the rhubarb will go in a coffee cake tomorrow. In a few weeks, running out before the week is over will not be a problem—the sheer abundance or the summer and fall market always makes me want to purchase far more than we can possibly consume in a week.

Although our artichokes come from California, I associate artichokes with Provence. In the quintessential artichoke dish from that region of France—Artichauts à la Barigoule—the artichokes are gently cooked in a bath of aromatic vegetables, herbs, white wine and lots of olive oil. When I braise artichokes I almost always borrow from this famed dish. Tonight my aromatics and herbs were the aforementioned spring onions, plus garlic, bay leaf and thyme.

As with any braise, I first gently colored the artichokes in a little bit of fat—in this case butter and olive oil.

I then added the spring onions, garlic and thyme and cooked these briefly. Since braising is a moist heat cooking method, the next step is to moisten the vegetables to be braised. This could be done with just water or stock, but I used white wine. After reducing the wine to soften and concentrate its flavor, I added enough water (you could use stock) to come about 1/4 of the way up the artichokes. After this moistening, the artichokes are cooked covered at a gentle simmer. The artichokes will take 30 to 40 minutes to cook—they should be tender to the tip of a knife.

Many things can be added to the braising artichokes to cook along with them. Carrots and Fennel come to mind. I thought about finishing my braised artichokes by adding some sautéed mushrooms towards the end and then adding and reducing some cream. Artichokes are wonderful with mushrooms (and cream), but I feel like I have been using a lot of mushrooms recently. So I added some fingerling potatoes to my braise when I added the liquid (potatoes are another good partner for artichokes and will take the same amount of time to cook) and then finished with a few Niçoise olives. If I had had some parsley or basil on hand, I would have added one or both at the end. They would have added some freshness and color. Patricia Wells has a wonderful ragoût of artichokes and new potatoes in her Provence Cookbook that she finishes with a persillade of parsley, mint, garlic and pepper flakes—a nice touch.

I served the artichokes and potatoes with a simple pan-roasted chicken breast. I used a bone-in, split breast. Even if you like to eat boneless breasts, you should try and cook the chicken on the bone. Meat cooked on the bone always has more flavor and in the case of the chicken will be juicier.

To pan roast a split breast, season the breast liberally all over with salt & pepper. Brown the breast, skin side down in a little bit of oil in a hot ovenproof sauté pan. When the skin is browned and crisp, turn the chicken over (the bone provides a convenient roasting rack) and transfer to a 375° to 400° oven. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 155°--about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes—the internal temperature will continue to rise as the chicken rests and will easily reach the safe temperature of 160°.   Add the resting juices to the artichokes. Using your hands, pull the bone away from the breast, starting at the point where the breast was attached to the wing.  Slice the breast at an angle, across the grain and serve.  A large split breast (12 ounces) will yield about 8 or 9 ounces of meat and make two nice portions. 

Braised Artichokes with Fingerling Potatoes & Olives

1 lemon
3 Globe Artichokes
1 T. butter
olive oil
1 lb. Fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
3 fat cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 T. picked thyme, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
Several spring onions, including some of the green, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 to 1 1/4 c. chicken stock (or water)
1/3 to 1/2 c. pitted Niçoise olives
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Turn the artichoke, rubbing with lemon juice as you work. Cut each bottom into eight wedges.

In a large sauté pan with a tight fitting lid, melt the butter in a little olive oil over medium heat. When the foam has begun to subside, drain the artichokes, pat them dry, and add them to the pan. Gently cook the artichokes, turning once, for about 3 to 5 minutes. While the artichokes are cooking, cut the potatoes into uniform chunks. You may halve them lengthwise, or cut on a short diagonal if they are very thin. When the artichokes are beginning to color, add the onions, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by half. Add 1 cup of the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook at a bare simmer, stirring/shaking occasionally, until the artichokes and potatoes offer no resistance to the tip of a knife—about 30 to 40 minutes. Add the olives after 15 minutes of cooking. If the ragout becomes dry, add some more of the stock.

Swirl in more olive oil if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6

1 comment:

billue said...

Paige, I said I was going to comment. A little belated, but here I am. It's not the original artichoke post, but as you know and can see by my name, my artichoke love is still going strong. My mom is still attempting to grown them, even though my attempt failed. Your blog is so great, detailed and educational, just like everything you do! Keep it comin'!