Braised Chicken 
Thighs with Marinated Artichokes
 and Blackened Carrots

img_7695I love comfort food, but I also love some big, bold flavors, and this recipe for Braised Chicken 
Thighs with Marinated Artichokes
 and Blackened Carrots is right up that alley. Both of these beautiful dishes are from Food & Wine, and I whipped it up for my friend April and I for a weeknight catch-up. We were in heaven!

The chicken was absolutely divine — you brown and crisp up the skin in a skillet and then braise the thighs in the oven for an hour, so they are super juicy and fall right off the bone. I especially love braising olives and artichokes — it makes them so tender and sweet, and they absorb up the great flavor from the artichoke brine, garlic, sherry, lemon and fish sauce. It’s an amazing combo of acid, umami, salty and rich from the olive oil in the brine.

Look how beautiful that is!

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And the carrots! These were amazing — and it’s a must to make them with super fresh farmers market carrots, preferably smaller ones so they cook through faster. These are coated in an awesome spice mix including paprika, cayenne, garlic and oregano and topped with a vinaigrette of balsamic and honey. Wow, so much flavor happening and you get such a great sweetness from roasting them through in the oven. I could eat these as a meal on their own!

 

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TW’s Tips

  • When you eat the chicken, make up a bite that has a little bit of everything happening — chicken, olive, artichoke and lemon. Yes, lemon. Cut the entire slices, rind and all, into pieces and eat them — it’s such an awesome hint of bitterness alongside the other flavors. If you love tart, you will loooove this.
  • When the chicken is done, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the head of garlic and smash them up a bit in the sauce so you get that flavor all mixed in too.
  • I could have gone even heavier on artichokes in this one — don’t be afraid to add more.
  • I served this straight up, but you could definitely put it over rice to soak up some of the yummy sauce.
  • The carrots are blackened, so you may stir up quite a bit of smoke in the cooking of these — I sure did. And with all the spices, I was sneezing like crazy! Fair warning: open a window, turn on the hood and get the air moving around in the kitchen for these puppies — it’s worth it.
  • Don’t bother cutting of the ends of the carrots, just wash them well.

Enjoy!

Braised Chicken 
Thighs with Marinated Artichokes

Ingredients

  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (3 3/4 pounds)
  • Sea salt and pepper (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, plus 1/4 cup brine from the jar
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/2 cup semidry sherry, such as amontillado
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron skillet or black steel pan, heat the oil. Add half of the chicken skin side down and top the pieces (not the pan) with a pot lid; cook over moderate heat until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer skin side up to a large baking dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Scatter the artichoke hearts, olives, garlic, lemon slices and thyme in the baking dish.

Pour off the fat from the skillet. Add the artichoke brine, stock, sherry and fish sauce; bring to a boil. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, then pour the mixture around the chicken. Cover tightly with foil and braise in the oven for 1 hour, until the chicken is very tender.

Uncover and increase the oven temperature to 400°. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes longer, until the skin is crisp.

Discard the thyme. Transfer to plates and serve.

Blackened Carrots

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a small bowl, whisk the paprika with the oregano, cayenne and garlic powder. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.

Put the butter in a shallow bowl. Dip the cut side of each carrot in the butter and then coat in the spice mixture, pressing to help the spices adhere; transfer to a plate.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add the carrots cut side down in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until blackened on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the carrots are just tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and honey. Whisk in the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer the carrots to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Mustard-Roasted Fish, Orange Pecan Wild Rice and Roasted Carrots

This meal was a HUGE winner in my book. I was looking for a fairly easy fish recipe, and found this one from Barefoot Contessa: Mustard-Roasted Fish. I loved that you cook it in the oven (no fishy house smell), and I’m a big fan of mustard, capers and Barefoot Contessa so I went for it.

Now, cooking fish can be scary — it’s so easy to overcook and turn the fish into a tough, chewy disaster. But don’t let that deter you. This is super easy, and when you’re cooking in the oven it’s easy to test the fish a few times to make sure you’re not overcooking it.

So…about this fish. Basically…it was absolutely delicious. It was so moist it practically melted in my mouth, and the sauce on top, made up of creme fraiche, two types of mustard for a great tang, shallots and salty capers, was perfect — creamy yet light, and with such a great mustard flavor. I’m in love with it. I’ll be making this again. Maybe next week. Seriously.

I paired the fish with a fancy wild rice, also by Barefoot Contessa, that incorporates grapes, scallions, orange zest and pecans for some nutty crunch. I’m not a big rice fan — I tend to find it boring unless it’s soaking up some delicious curry sauce — but now that it has been a part of my two latest posts (check out the mango-basmati rice salad in my last post) I realize you may not believe me! Let’s suffice to say that this rice has enough going on to make it interesting. In fact, when my friend Kim and I were eating this, I commented that I could eat the rice on its own for a meal — it was that good.

And then the carrots. I’m a big advocate for roasted vegetables. It adds such a nutty, delicious flavor to the vegetables while keeping a good firmness (no mushy veggies here). They caramelize under the high heat, adding a little sweetness…yum. I didn’t have any parsley or dill (I thought I did, but then I didn’t…bummer) so I used tarragon — not the best replacement, and I would definitely go for dill next time around.

TW’s Tips

  • I was cooking for two, so I cut the recipe in half; even then I still had a couple of meals of leftovers. I also cut the carrot recipe in half, and probably should have done the same with the rice!
  • I used tilapia for my fish — any white fish works. Mine also didn’t have the skin — worked just fine.
  • Buy your wild rice from the bulk section at the grocery store — I got the “mixed” type.
  • Creme fraiche can be hard to find but it’s worth seeking out — Whole Foods reliably carries it (look by the sour cream and/or milk) — nothing quite matches its flavor
Make this! You’ll thank me!
Mustard-Roasted Fish
Ingredients
  • 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it’s barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it’s done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

Orange Pecan Wild Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced in rounds, white and light green parts (2 scallions)
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place the rice, chicken stock, 1 1/4 cups water, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer (pull the pan halfway off the burner if you need to) and cook for about 1 hour, until the rice is tender and the grains begin to burst open. Stir the rice occasionally while it’s cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent it from sticking. Turn off the heat, and allow the rice to steam for about 5 minutes.

Stir the remaining tablespoon of butter into the rice, then add the grapes, scallions, pecans, orange zest, orange juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 12 carrots
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.