As some of my readers here may know, I’m a fan of Alison Roman of the New York Times. Her unaffected, simple approach to food so often leads to some of the tastiest dishes I’ve made. In fact, one of my most popular posts was based on her recipe for Vinegar Chicken with Crushed Olive Dressing. A modicum of ingredients and minimal preparation yielded an extremely flavorful and vividly colorful weeknight supper.
Well recently I came upon another of Ms. Roman’s recipes on the New York Times “Cooking” website: “Wine Braised Chicken with Artichoke Hearts.” What intrigued me most about it was her use of canned artichoke hearts. Yes, canned.
If you’re about to stop reading, please don’t. I too, like many of the Times site’s readers, had serious reservations about using those tasty cores of an artichoke from a can. Many commenters suggested using either the frozen variety or the more popular marinated ones from a jar. In fact, some of her readers who actually prepared the dish as written complained about their tinny taste or lack of flavor and likened them to canned asparagus.
Despite their criticism and fault finding with the recipe, I decided to prepare it but was able to avoid many of the setbacks other readers had with it mainly because I was able to find a video of her making the dish. From the YouTube video, I gleaned a few key items, of which the most important was what size of the canned artichoke heart. Indeed, until I went shopping for them I hadn’t realized there were so many can options: quartered, 8-10 pieces, 5-7 pieces. In the video, Roman used the Cento brand 5-7 pieces can, which made sense since the recipe calls for slicing the hearts in half and the larger pieces would stand up to the cooking. Unable to find Cento, I settled for our supermarket’s brand.
The video also shows Roman liberally seasoning the chicken as well as the artichokes and onions. Those readers who commented that the dish was bland might have benefited, as I did, from watching the video. In addition, it also demonstrated her technique and emphasized the importance of thoroughly browning the chicken thighs. While watching, I noticed that Roman also appeared to use more than the 1 tablespoon of olive oil for the process. Unlike the printed recipe, the video also made clear exactly when the fat should be drained and how much fat should remain in the pan after the browning and before adding the artichokes with the onions (i.e., 2 tablespoons). Such discrepancies between the printed recipe and the video seem to justify my complaints about the inaccurate transcription of recipes from television and celebrity chefs.
In the recipe below, I’ve pretty much followed the original to a T, adding changes based on the video version. Following the advice of some commenters, I also rinsed the artichoke hearts after draining them and substituted za’atar for the optional sumac.
I highly recommend this recipe. It yielded an extraordinarily aromatic and tasty dish. The chicken was fall-off-the bone tender and juicy, with surprisingly crispy skin for a braised dish. (As Roman points out in the video, however, it’s a shallow braise.) The artichokes were far better than I had expected and, along with the red onion, added a subtle sweetness to the tangy chicken-flavored sauce. If you like a thicker sauce, you may want to reduce it some at the end after removing the chicken. But for me, it was fine as is.
The easy preparation and relatively brief cooking time make this a perfect dish for a weeknight supper; the rich flavor and elegant presentation with the mint leaves qualify it for entertaining guests as well.
Wine-Braised Chicken with Artichoke Hearts (adapted from a recipe by Alison Roman from the New York Times “Cooking” website.)
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (1 ½ to 2 pounds)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 (14-ounce) 5-7-count cans artichoke hearts, drained and halved lengthwise
1 medium red onion, cut into medium wedges (leave root end on)
1 ¼ cup dry white wine
A small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup mint leaves
Sumac or za’atar, for serving (optional)
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Dry chicken well with paper towels. Season chicken liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high, and add chicken, skin-side down. Cook, over medium high, without flipping, until the skin is deeply golden and much of the fat has rendered, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Using tongs, flip the chicken skin-side up. Lower the flame to medium and let the undersides cook for another 5 or so minutes. Set chicken aside. (Before proceeding to the next step, you may need to pour off some of the fat. Leave about 2 tablespoons of fat as well as all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.)
4. Add artichoke hearts and onions to the pan, season with salt and pepper, letting them sizzle until they get a little color, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add wine and thyme, shaking skillet to make sure the wine is evenly distributed and scraping up any golden-brown bits.
6. Add chicken, along with any accumulated juices, back to the pan, over the artichoke hearts and onions. Do not let the wine cover the skin. Bring to a simmer and place in the oven until chicken has finished cooking and sauce is reduced by about half, 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Remove chicken from oven, transfer to a warmed platter or plates, and scatter with herbs. As Roman warns in her video: be sure to keep in mind that the skillet handle will be HOT; keep a towel or kitchen mitt over it. Finish with more pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, the pan juices, and a sprinkle of sumac or za’atar, if you have it.
Wine Pairing: Chardonnay, Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc