Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Artichokes, Leeks and Tarragon cooked over baby potatoes. A simple spring dinner to highlight the season’s bounty.
Pieces of chicken thighs are simply seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and seared in a skillet. In the same pan, fresh artichoke hearts are sauteed with leeks and baby potatoes, then de-glazed with vermouth (or white wine) and chicken stock. Fresh tarragon leaves and lemon zest are added along with a tiny little bit of cream. The chicken thighs are nestled down in this lovely spring goodness, and it all goes in the oven for a bit. When it comes out, the chicken is juicy and crispy, and the artichokes flavorful and tender. A delicious one-pot meal.
Last evening, while walking through the lilac grove, smelling each one, I thought to myself (a little morbidly) that I probably only have forty more springs to experience all this loveliness, if I’m lucky. And suddenly all the blossoms and all the flower smells in the night air…seemed so much more important.
This morning, as I study at the sleepy blossoms outside my window, I wonder, will I ever fully open? Some things just can’t be forced. We are, what we are when we are. But today at least, I feel somewhat willing.
Through the years, I’ve been a witness to this in others- the gradual opening of those close to me. Watching them become more and more of who they are. It is a beautiful thing to behold. It moves me.
Finally, you will get to the fine thread-like filaments. These are inedible, even when cooked, so using a spoon, firmly and gently pry them off.
If you get the edge of your spoon, in just the right spot, they will come off easily.
Once these are off, using a sharp paring knife, quickly trim the artichoke edges and stem- removing the tough skin of the stem and the bottom 1/2 inch or so. Immediately immerse in a bowl of cold lemon water, to help prevent browning.
You can cut a whole chicken into pieces, or use chicken thighs. Pat dry, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and sear in a hot skillet. I usually cook the bottom side longer than the tops, because the tops will brown in the oven, and you don’t want them overly brown. Once seared, set them aside.
After draining off some of the chicken fat, in the same pan, you will saute the leeks, artichokes and potatoes with a little butter.
For this dish, I use tiny baby potatoes, just cut in half. Whatever potatoes you use, make sure they are cut to about a 1/2 inch thick, so they cook to the proper done-ness.
When ready to saute the artichokes, pull them out of the lemon water and slice them to 1/4 inch thick.
Sometimes I’ll throw in some pearl onions. Mushrooms would taste good too. Or fresh English peas. Or caramelized fennel bulb. Make it your own.
This recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of fresh tarragon, which to me, pairs really well with artichoke hearts. But, if you are not a fan of tarragon, fresh sage is a really good alternative.
Once the artichokes, leeks and potatoes are just tender, after about 10 minutes, de-glaze with Vermouth (or white wine). Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 5 minutes.
Add stock, lemon zest and fresh tarragon and a little half and half. Once simmering, give a quick stir and taste for salt. You may need to add a pinch of salt and pepper. Nestle chicken into it so the undersides are immersed in the liquid and skin sides are up. Place in a hot 425F oven for 20-30 minutes or until thighs register 180F or breasts reach 160F. If not crisp enough, place under the broiler for a few minutes.
Hope you enjoy this recipe and leave your notes in the comments below!
- 4 large artichokes, trimmed and sliced
- one lemon, zest and juice.
- 6 chicken thighs (bone in skin on)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon butter, divided.
- 1 large leek, sliced and rinsed, drained.
- 2 cups tiny potatoes sliced ( 1/4 thick in pieces)
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
- 1/2 cup vermouth or white wine.
- 1 Cup chicken stock
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1/2 Cup half and half
- 1/4 cup fresh tarragon, divided
- Optional Addtions: Mushrooms, ramps, pearl onions, fresh English peas, fennel bulb
Zest the lemon, set zest aside.
Prep the artichokes. Fill a med bowl with 4 cups cold water and squeeze with the juice from the lemon. Because artichokes will easily brown, work on one at a time as quickly as possible. Snap off all the hard out leaves using your fingers ( Save for later) With a sharp paring knife, trim off all the outer green skin around the base and stem, keeping the stem in tact. Remove the yellowish soft leaves and using a spoon, gently scrape away the white or purple silk like threads. Immediately place in the lemon water, to prevent browning. Slice just before placing in the skillet.
Preheat oven to 425F. Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil in a heavy bottom oven proof skillet over med high heat. Place chicken skin side down and sear for until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown undersides until golden, about 7-8 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Drain some of the chicken fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon oil in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon more butter. Add leeks, sliced artichokes, sliced potatoes and fennel seeds. Saute on med heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they just begin to soften. Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and pepper.
Deglaze the pan with vermouth (or white wine). Reduce by half, about 4 minutes. Add stock, mustard and fennel seeds, half and half, half of the fresh tarragon and 1/2 of the zest. Give a stir, bring to a simmer, and taste broth adjusting salt and pepper. Nestle the chicken pieces into the stew with skin sides up, and roast in a hot 425 F oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden, and thigh internal temp is 170F, or breast internal temp is 160F. If needed, broil for a couple minutes to get skin extra crispy.
Garnish with remaining lemon zest and fresh tarragon before serving.