Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Meyer Lemon Chicken with Artichoke Hearts

I can't think of the last time I turned on my stove--it's been so hot and sticky recently. But we're enjoying a slight break in the monsoonal system and, knowing I was going to do some cooking for my parents at their house over the weekend I was in the mood for making chicken. It's something my dad always enjoys and something I can make enough of so that they have leftovers.

Recently I've been making them mustard chicken baked with panko. It's easy--just slather the chicken pieces with a great mustard and roll in panko. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 375˚ for about an hour. My folks both love this dish, as do I. The mustard tenderizes and flavors the meat and the panko and olive oil create a fabulous crust. What's not to love!

But I don't want them to get tired of it, so I was thinking about other options. I love chicken flavored with lemon juice but I had one last ripe Meyer lemon on my tree and thought it might be interesting to chop it up and cook it with the chicken. And add artichokes. I knew I couldn't find baby artichokes right now--this would be great with trimmed fresh baby artichokes--but I could buy frozen artichoke hearts. It all started coming together--add some shallots, fresh herbs, some wine. And that was it.

The result was a marvelous tangy, yet rich dish. The roasted Meyer lemon pieces contributed to the juices but were also wonderful bites, drenched in chicken juices and wine, since they don't have the bitterness of conventional lemons. The chicken practically fell off the bone, yet the skin was crisp. And the mellowness of the artichokes and shallots complemented the bright sweet flavors coming from the lemon and wine.

I made some basmati rice to accompany the dish, which was perfect because this lemon chicken creates some magnificent juices and you want a grain that will sop it all up.  And there are plenty of leftovers for a couple of days. This goes in the rotation, especially so Mom can enjoy it later when she's feeling better.

Lemon Chicken with Artichoke Hearts
(printable recipe)
Serves 5 to 8

5 whole chicken legs, cut into drumstick and thighs (trim excess fat)
1, 12-ounce bag of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
2 Meyer lemons, washed, cut into pieces and seeded
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
About 12 sprigs of fresh oregano and thyme
2/3 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300˚F.

Place chicken pieces skin side down in casserole in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn over and season the skin side.

In a large bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, lemon pieces, shallots, and herbs. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Add to the chicken, tucking into the crevices between the pieces. Keep as much of the chicken uncovered as possible. Pour the wine over the chicken mixture.

Cover with foil and bake for two hours. Increase the oven temperature to 425˚F. Remove the foil and roast uncovered for half an hour or until the skin is brown and crispy.

Serve with rice or another grain.

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