Artichoke is a very special vegetable; it is actually a cultivated flower bud of the thorny thistle family.
The edible part, called the heart, is not easy to access – you need to get rid of the hard leaves around it and scoop the hairy center first – but it is really worth the work involved. The flavor of fresh artichoke is so unique – a blend of sweetness, saltiness and that special creaminess that no other vegetable can impart. No wonder it is such a popular vegetable all around the Mediterranean from ancient times.
The combination of artichokes, lemon and garlic with a bit of olive oil is a classic. Here I’ve used it with chicken thighs, but the dish will be just as successful with lamb or beef.
If you can’t get fresh artichokes, you can use frozen artichoke hearts instead. The result will not be exactly the same, but close enough. Canned artichokes are not suitable for this dish, as they are already cooked through.
The dish is great on its own, with some fresh bread on the side, or served on a bed of potato puree, cooked rice or couscous.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
2 fresh medium artichokes
2 Tbs light olive oil
4 chicken thighs
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Lemon zest from ½ lemon
1. Clean the artichokes: remove some of the leaves by hand and remove the rest with a sharp knife, until you get to the pale layer of leaves. With a sharp, heavy knife, cut them off, as close to the heart edges as possible. Scoop the hairy part with a melon baller and cut each into 4 pieces.
2. Heat the oil in a medium pot and add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Fry for about 5 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. Turn to the other side and fry for 5 minutes more.
3. Add the garlic, artichokes, lemon juice and zest. Cover the pot and bring to the boil. Turn heat to medium-low and cook for about 40 minutes, until the chicken and artichokes are cooked through.