Friday, March 15, 2013

Lemon & Artichoke Chicken from Practical Paleo

I've had a copy of Practical Paleo by Dianne Sanfilippo for a few months and for some reason, just hadn't made anything from it.  I sat down last week and tabbed some recipes, and I decided my first recipe review from the book would be Lemon & Artichoke Chicken.  If you do some internet searching you may or may not be able to find where others have posted this recipe but I did not see where Dianne has posted this recipe herself anywhere, so consider purchasing the book.   

First, I gathered my ingredients and pre-heated the oven to 375.    

I sliced the shallots and put them into my Le Creuset braising dish (it's 13 inches in diameter) with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.  While the shallots softened, I separated the drumsticks and thighs with a knife, so I'd have 8 total pieces of chicken.  

The recipe says to cook the shallots until translucent.  I'm never a good judge as to when onions or shallots are translucent.  So, when the shallot had softened and started to brown, I drained and measured out the capers before adding them to the pan.

I drained and rinsed 2 cans of artichoke hearts that were packed in water.  The recipe calls for 2 cups.  One can will give you just over 1 cup.  I decided it would be nice to have more artichokes than less, so I used both cans.  Sure I could have measured exactly, but figured if I stored the few leftover artichokes, they may not get used in time- waste not want not.  Part of me wanted to cut the hearts in half, but decided to follow the recipe.  Once rinsed, I added them to the pan.  

Next, I added the juice of a lemon using my handy dandy citrus reamer.

The next step is to add pats of fat to each of the chicken pieces.  The ingredient list for the recipe says you can use butter, ghee or coconut oil, but refers to using butter in all of the actual instructions.  Putting pats of coconut oil on the chicken just didn't make sense in my mind, so I used grass fed butter. I'm guessing maybe the options for fat in the ingredient list are to accommodate those who wish to avoid dairy all together.  

I then made an error.  I put the lid on my pan and put it in the oven.  The recipe doesn't say to put the lid on but for reasons I'll go into below, I don't know it was such a bad thing to do.  The only drawback I think in doing so was that the chicken didn't brown really.  Here is the dish after 45 minutes in the oven.  

Here's the completed dish and likely the prettiest shot of it.  
The recipe instruction says to cook for "45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees."  A quick check with my instant read thermometer showed my chicken well exceeded 165 degrees.  Don't worry, the chicken wasn't burnt.  

I like to post pictures of my plate in each post, but this dish just did not want to look pretty in a picture.  At first, I thought it was my dishes causing the chicken to look off in color (my dishes are blue), so I transferred it to a white bowl and put it in the sunshine and it still looked a little off.  Don't take this to mean that I spend a lot of time taking or worrying about pictures, I honestly, and likely, obviously don't.  I'll post the pictures anyway.

Blue plate special?

Perhaps a white bowl will look better?
Now maybe a slightly different angle?  
Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients:  You should be able to find all of the ingredients for this recipe at your "big box" grocery store.  I was at Whole Foods the day I shopped for this recipe.  The artichoke hearts were $2.99/ can.  I need to check out the prices on frozen artichoke hearts which was an option given in the recipe.  The capers were $3.49 for a small jar.

Preparation and Cooking Time:  The stated preparation time in the recipe is 10 minutes and the cooking time 50 minutes.  My preparation time from start until putting the dish in the oven was 20 minutes.  When I make dishes that have a little stove top cooking before going into the oven, I tend to think of the stove top time as preparation time, but obviously it's also cooking.  If she were to use the same definition of preparation time, her total preparation time would be 15 minutes.  The cooking time for me was 45 minutes, which was the same for her subtracting the 5 minutes she allotted for the stove top cooking time.  So, in short, it took me 5 more minutes than the stated cooking/preparation time to make the dish.  

Clean Up:  I hand washed my Le Creuset pot which did not require much heavy scrubbing and my wooden spoon.  Everything else went into the dishwasher.

For as much as I dislike hand washing things, you might wonder why I've started using wooden spoons that need hand washing?  Since I've started cooking more and more, I've found that the nylon utensils I've always used just don't hold up to hearty dishes.  These wooden spoons feel solid while I stir and  have thicker handle that just feels nice in my hand.  I started out with one large spoon and then I found a set of 3 of them at a local discount store (Ross) for $8.99 and I couldn't resist.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs up!  Don't let the pictures deter you, the dish is quite tasty.  The chicken has a light lemon flavor.  The artichokes have more prominent lemon buttery flavor.  The capers do their job and add a nice salty tanginess to each bite.  Quite tasty.  I'm glad I used a few more artichoke hearts so I'd have more to enjoy with the chicken.  

There wasn't very much of a pan sauce once the dish was done.  This made me kind of glad that I mistakenly put the lid on the pan to help keep some of the moisture in.  I really would like the chicken to be browner though.  Given that the 45 minute cooking time was more than sufficient for the chicken to reach 165 degrees, the next time I make this dish, I'm going to try cooking it for maybe 25 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered and see if that creates a good compromise between keeping moisture in the dish and browning.  

If you're looking for a lemony chicken dish with a zing, try this one out.

Blog Note:  Has anyone else noticed that lemon, chicken and artichokes seems to be a "hot" flavor combination lately in the paleo recipe blogoshere. I'd say it was because artichokes are in season in Spring, but none of these recipes use fresh artichokes.  I made a salad earlier this week with those ingredients and have found 2 other recipes recently that I want to make but I'll have to pace myself or this will turn into the lemon, chicken, artichoke blog.