Love is a Thistly Warrior
Good things come to those who wait, and this month’s Daring Kitchen was proof of that fact. When I think of my two favorite braised dishes, I crave fork-tender beef short ribs with crimini mushrooms that have greedily sucked up all of the surrounding juices, and braised chicken thighs with shallots, tarragon and cream. Both are stunning and ever-so-yummy, but are wintry treats perfect for curling up to replete with the roaring fire and snifter of cognac. I wanted something appropriately light and savory for the warming weather here in Arizona, and our host of the month had a perfect suggestion.
The March 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, aka Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.
On Carol’s list of recommended recipes, she listed Michael Chiarello (swoon!) and his Lemon Braised Artichokes. I thought that it was simple and gorgeous and would pair perfectly with a pan of chicken piccata. Turns out that the two were a match made in heaven, and I was treated to bites that sparkled with lemon, briny capers and tender chicken. You’ve gotta love it when a good plan comes together!
Chicken Piccata with Braised Artichokes
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. of chicken tenders
salt and pepper
6 tbs. of butter
2 tbs. of olive oil
1/2 c. of fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 c. of chicken stock
3.5 oz jar of capers
1/4 c. of chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400°. Grab a casserole pan and whisk together the olive oil, thyme, garlic, black pepper and chicken stock.
Begin prepping your artichokes by removing all of the outer leaves until you are at the tender, pale yellow center leaves. Cut off the top of the artichoke, leaving the stem and about an inch of the tender yellow leaves. Use a veggie peeler to peel off the outer layer of the stem and then trim off all but one inch of the stem. Halve the artichoke and use a spoon to take out the fuzzy choke. Quarter the artichoke and put the pieces in the marinade in the casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
Cover the casserole dish and bake the artichokes for 45 minutes, or until extremely tender.
When there’s about 15 minutes left on the artichoke clock, make your chicken. Season the chicken tenders liberally with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour. Heat a skillet over high heat and add three tablespoons of butter and the olive oil. Brown the chicken in the hot oil until golden and set aside on a plate. Add the chicken broth and lemon juice to the hot pan, scraping up any browned bits. Add the chicken back into the pan along with the capers, and allow the sauce to thicken a bit, about 2-3 minutes. Right before serving, remove the chicken to a serving dish and top with the artichokes. Add the remaining butter to the pan and stir to thicken the sauce. Add the parsley and give it one last stir before topping the chicken with the sauce. Serve immediately.