Thoughts of Spring: Braised Chicken with Artichokes, Leeks and Mushrooms

According to the groundhogs, warmer weather is just around the corner despite the freezing temperatures in the Northeast.  And I’m ready for it.  Enough with the winter kale.  Since it’ll be a few weeks before the first spring vegetables appear at the farmer’s market, I improvised with a dish that conjures up images of green pastures, maybe in a French countryside….

Chicken quarters cost almost nothing, and one per person will do.  When cooked properly (use a digital thermometer), it’s also incredibly moist.  For a more Mediterranean take, add some olives (too bad I was cooking for an olive-hater) and maybe a little feta or goat cheese to finish the dish.  As you know, I’m always in favor of cheese.  Plus, the sauce will be thick enough to keep you warm until spring has officially sprung.

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Braised Chicken with Artichokes, Leeks and Mushrooms
Serves 2.

Ingredients

2 chicken quarters (leg plus) or thighs
1 small jar of artichokes (preferably in water), quartered
2 leeks, rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 oz (1/2 a package) of mixed mushrooms (portabella, oyster, shitake blend), coarsely chopped
*1/3 cup of green pitted olives, sliced
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of dry white wine or chicken broth
1 tbsp of parsley, thinly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp of lemon juice
Flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup of sour cream or 3 tbsps of cream cheese, optional
1/4 cup of feta, parm or goat cheese, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Dredge the chicken in flour mixed with salt and pepper.  Melt 2 tbsps of butter over medium-high heat in Dutch oven or oven-proof skillet.  Add the chicken and brown on each side for about 12 minutes total.

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Remove and set aside.  If not too many browned bits, you can continue with the pan drippings.  Otherwise, discard the pan drippings and add 2 more tbsps of butter to pan, then melt over low heat.

Add leeks to the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Increase heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes or until softened.  Add mushrooms, thyme, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, wine or broth and bay leaf to pan.  Stir to mix, then bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 3 minutes.
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Add in artichokes (*add olives at this point, if using) and stir.  (I prefer canned artichokes in water instead of oil for this recipe.  You can add some of the artichoke water to the pan as well.)  Cook for another 2 minutes.  IMG_0278

Then add chicken to the top of the vegetables, cover pan and place in the oven for about 25 minutes.  Remove lid and cook for another 20 minutes (internal temp should reach 165 degrees).

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Note I was cooking for 3, so the pan was a little crowded but each piece was perfectly cooked.

When done cooking in the oven, place pan on stove, remove chicken and discard the bay leaf from the pan.  Heat over medium to remove some of the water from the broth, if needed.  You can serve the chicken with the vegetables on top.  Or add some sour cream or cream cheese to thicken the sauce for a creamier dish.

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I added cream cheese (that’s what happened to be in the frig).

And you can also sprinkle with parm or a few handfuls of feta or goat cheese for more texture, as well as some additional fresh parsley.

Serve over angel hair pasta, especially if you add cheese and make a thicker sauce, or with some smashed potatoes, cauliflower or parsnip puree, or creamy polenta.  Anything that will absorb the sauce.

To drink: obviously, you can finish the wine you used to cook with (I used a white Bordeaux), but a muddled parsley (yes, really), lemon and vodka with seltzer would complement the dish as well.

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