I’ve never met a vegetable more frustrating than the artichoke. You spend too much time on them, getting poked by little pricks in doing so, risking slicing off your palm with your sharpest knife, and possibly (if you are as clumsy as me) peeling off a fingernail or two with your peeler. All for a teeny tiny little stub.
But damn it if that stub aint worth it. I’ve never met a vegetable more frustrating that the artichoke but I’m also hard-pressed to name one more complex and delicious. The texture of a cooked artichoke is like a cross between a squash and an avocado and the flavor is intensely earthy and bold; it leaves a clean, mellow taste on your tongue and, because of a compound called cynarin, makes anything you eat with it taste a touch sweeter—not good when pairing with expensive wine, but fabulous for sauteing with garlic.
Most of the time, I like to drop prepped artichokes in a bowl of lime-water so that their color stays as bright as possible. I usually find that lemon-water will overpower the flavor of artichokes but lime won’t interfere. I would’ve loved to show you a video of how to prep the artichokes, but thought I would save you from the barage of bad language and mini-tanrums. For a great, frustratingly calm slide-show, click here.
I used hot-house tomatoes, peeled and seeded, because canned tomatoes would be too sweet for the sweetening effect of artichokes, and a whole chicken cut into eight pieces (you can have the butcher do this for you instead of buying chicken pieces, you get a much better quality buying whole). Past all the prep work, this dish is simple as pie (simpler, even): throw everything in a pot with some wine and then have a glass while you wait for your fabulous dinner.
A dinner that will be amazingly good, too; one that transports you to another place, an Italian countryside maybe, where you eat while the wind whips at your hair and the wine intoxicates you. One where you feel no embarrassment at sucking the chicken bones dry, one where that is considered flattering. One where, even, there’s a nice man playing footsy with you under the table while you give him your come-hither eyes as you slop up the sauce with some warm, crusty bread.
Artichoke and Chicken Stew
adapted from Bon Appetit, April 1998
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces, preferably farm-raised
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 6 medium artichokes, trimmed, halved, chokes removed
- 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped, preferably hot-house unless in-season
- 2 cups chicken broth
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer onions to bowl.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add to pot and cook until golden on all sides, about 10 minutes. Pour off excess fat from pot. Sprinkle flour over chicken in pot; turn chicken over. Cook until flour browns lightly, about 2 minutes. Add sautéed onions, white wine and garlic to chicken. Reduce heat; simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Drain artichoke halves. Add to chicken. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through and artichokes are tender, about 30 minutes. Spoon off any fat from surface of stew. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken and artichokes to large platter; tent with foil. Boil sauce in pot until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and artichokes.