Spring Veggies!

I love all of the produce that is beginning to be available this time of year. The most delicious, albeit labor intensive, veggies are showing up at the farmers markets and the grocery stores. Artichokes are my all-time favorite. The other night I made raviolis with lemon braised artichoke and ricotta filling, paired with a pancetta and fresh pea sauce. Last night was braised chicken with baby artichokes and fava beans. I forgot to take photos during the ravioli making, but will post the recipe with the final photo. I did remember to take photos of most of the process of last night’s dinner, so here it is. 

The fava beans can be prepared ahead of time. I usually sit down with two big bowls and watch something on TV while I shell the beans. Yesterday it was the Chef’s Table episode featuring Nancy Silverton. I only recently heard of her, but her story really resonated with me. I loved the quote near the end of the episode about how she’s really happiest when she’s surrounded by 12 of her good friends, cooking for them, and having a good glass of wine. Pretty much describes me! Also her love of Italian food, and making a few good ingredients shine. Anyway, if you haven’t cooked fava beans before, you have to first shell them, then blanch them for a couple of minutes, then peel them (make a slit in the outer shell with your fingernail, then squeeze and the bean will pop out of the shell – see photo), then cook them. Lots of work, but so worth it! They are available for such a short time in the spring, so I try to make lots of things with them when they’re available. I shelled 5lbs of pods, which left me with about 3 cups of final beans. About 1 cup for this recipe, and the rest for tonight’s dinner (stay tuned).

The baby artichokes are also only available in the spring. They require a lot of cleaning, and you end up discarding a lot, but you are left with a tiny, delicious gem which you can eat whole, since they have no fuzzy choke.

I got this recipe from Bon Appétit, and mostly followed it. I think next time, I will make a few tweaks. Mostly I would leave out the vinegar, as I felt like I could taste it too much in the final dish and didn’t really care for it. I’d like to be able to taste the wine more in the sauce. I would also probably remove the chicken at the end and reduce the sauce a bit. Otherwise, delicious dinner which everyone gobbled up!

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Cooking the chicken in the oven with the cover off gives you a nice crisp skin.

Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Fava Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh fava beans (from about 2 lb. pods) or frozen fava beans, thawed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 3 pounds baby artichokes (about 16)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3½–4-lb. chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • 8 shallots, peeled, halved
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions:
If using fresh fava beans, cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander set in a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain, remove skins, and place beans in a small bowl. Do not cook frozen beans. (I wouldn’t bother with frozen favas – they’re just not the same as fresh.)

Squeeze juice from lemons into a large bowl of cold water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, remove tough dark outer leaves. Using a serrated knife, cut off 1” from top, then trim stem, leaving at least ½” intact. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove dark outer layer from stem. Cut artichoke in half lengthwise, scoop out choke with a spoon, and discard. Transfer artichoke to lemon water to prevent it from turning brown.

Preheat oven to 425°. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat. Drain artichokes and pat dry. Add to pan; season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, until brown and crisp in places, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet. Wipe out pot.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with kosher salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook chicken, skin side down, until brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes (do not turn). Transfer to baking sheet with artichokes.

Reduce heat to medium, add shallots to pot, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and beginning to soften, 8–10 minutes. Add wine and vinegar and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot; cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Mix in broth, then add artichokes and chicken, skin side up. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes. Mix in fava beans. (I added them during the last 5 minutes of cooking because they were still too al dente for my taste.)

Serve chicken and vegetables topped with chives (I left out the chives – didn’t seem to go here) and parsley and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

One Comment

  1. Claudia Canale-Parola

    This sounds like the perfect Spring side! If I can find the ingredients, I’ll try it (baby artichokes and favas are not as easy to find on the east coast)

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