Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Artichokes and Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs

I’m back!  Last week I ended up with a stomach bug and who really wants to cook or eat when they aren’t feeling well. So I pretty much stuck to soup, rice and other sick people food. So that’s really nothing to blog about.

After I was feeling better, which was later on in the week, I made artichokes and roast chicken thighs. I didn’t get a chance to blog about it because we were quite busy this weekend.


It’s funny, Dom and I have been eating these fresh artichokes our whole lives and I never realized that other people didn’t eat them until college, I guess. See we both grew up in Italian households, so artichokes were a staple in our lives. Sure people eat them in pastas and over chicken in an Italian restaurant, but unfortunatly, few have tried fresh artichokes. There are tons of different ways you can make them.

My parents stuff them with Italian breadcrumbs and locatelli cheese and boil/steam them in about inch or two of water, garlic, and vinegar, making sure not to cover them with the “broth” completely so that the stuffing doesn’t come out. Dom does not like his stuffed and apparently only likes vinegar and water (he just told me this last week).  I normally trim mine up and boil them in balsamic, red wine vinegar, evoo, garlic, and sometimes a few slices of lemon. Then I dip in extra balsamic vinegar. I really like the vinegar taste but I wanted to try something new. One time I tried just boiling them in water with fresh sliced lemons and some fresh lemon juice.  I served them with lemon butter alla Julia Child. However, I don’t like to dip things in butter, I never have. I tried the sauce and honestly I think it just tasted like lemon butter, so it didn’t appeal to me. Dom liked it (he loves butter) but we agreed to go back to vinegar.

I saw the movie Julie and Julia. She made artichokes and then dipped them into Hollandaise and the look of Julie’s face when she eats the artichoke made me want to try it.  Then reality set in and I remembered my lemon butter experiment… what to do?? Hollandaise is hard enough to make and it does contain a ton of butter. Would I even like it? Dom and I love eggs Benedict, but we limit our consumption because it is loaded with calories. I decide against making it, it takes much more time to make, and since I was getting over being sick, I wasn’t up to it. Anyway, I hope you all try artichokes they are delicious, nutritious, and fun to eat!

1 Artichoke per person

Start by trimming your artichokes. Cut a bit of the top off maybe like ¼- 1/2 an inch. Remove some of the bottom leaves if they don’t nice. Cut the stem off and cut off the bottom part of the stem. Do not throw the stems away, inside the stem is just like the heart and it’s delicious. Place your artichokes and stems in a large pot add about 1-2 inches of water depending on how large your artichokes are. To the water add about ¼ cup of red wine vinegar, a few splashes of balsamic, a few splashes of evoo, salt and pepper, 4 cloves of smashed garlic, some Italian seasoning (I will omit this next time I make this recipe because Dom doesn’t like it), and then drizzle some balsamic over the artichokes. Cover the pot and cook until the bottom of the artichoke is soft and tender, this is anywhere from 30 mins to an hour. From time to time I like to ladle the vinegar mixture over the artichokes. You could just boil the artichokes if you want, but I think they would just end up floating to the top so I just do it this way, since this is the way I was taught. Once the artichokes are done take them out of their broth and let them cool enough to handle. Once you are ready to eat begin by peeling off the leaves. This is where you would dip into balsamic (good quality), lemon butter, or hollandaise. Use your teeth to pull the flesh off the leaves. Once you get to the choke, take a spoon or fork and make sure to clean out all of the little “hairs” or they will irritate your throat. Enjoy!

I ended up being full after the artichoke, which was probably due to me being sick in the beginning of the week but I would suggest serving these as apps for any Italian chicken dish or pasta dish.

To go with the artichokes I roasted some chicken thighs for Dom.

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs

1 package of bone in skin on Chicken Thighs (4)
S + P to taste
Italian Seasoning
Your favorite grill seasoning (he likes Omaha Steak Seasoning)

This is a super easy dish that takes no time at all to prepare but tastes wonderful! The best part about it is that you can add a variety of different herbs and spices each time to change the flavor. First I get a square pyrex and I put the thighs in it. Then I season each side with s,p , Italian seasoning, and Omaha. You don’t have to use extra s and p when you use grill seasoning but I do, it’s all up to your preference. Then drizzle each side with evoo. Roast in the oven at 400 for 10 mins, then turn down to 350 for about 20. This will all depend on the size of the thighs; these were on the small side. Just make sure the top and bottom of the thighs are brown and the juices are running clear. Do not over cook or you will have dry hockey pucks, you want nice moist thighs. You can also do this with breasts (I suggest bone in skin on), but be careful because the tend to dry out. If you like drumsticks this can be done with them as well. 

Some other ideas:
Add some potatoes and carrots to this mixture for a one dish meal.
Some other spices that are wonderful to add
Red pepper flakes
Tarragon (I would use some butter with this)

Be creative with your chicken and have fun!

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