I made something yesterday that I thought was really good: chicken cooked with artichoke hearts. Of course, I did it the hard way. I had bought some little purple artichokes — artichauts 'petits violets' — at the Grand Frais produce market up near Blois, so I had to trim them up myself. It took a few minutes, but the result was worth it. (Here's a web page showing how it's done.)
These are the little artichokes called artichauts violets — three of them partially prepared and the other two still whole.
What you do is pull most of the leaves off the little artichokes. Then you cut off the tops and trim a little off the stem at the bottom. You have to gently peel or trim the stem and the bottom end of each artichoke (I had bought 5 of them for one euro). You cut each in half through the stem and check to see how much of a choke — which they call le foin or 'the hay' in French — there is inside. You can remove the chokes if you need to, but I didn't.
Cœurs d'artichauts after the preliminary cooking in water and vinegar
I cooked the resulting artichoke hearts for 30 minutes or so at a low simmer. I put a little vinegar in the cooking water. Then I took them out and set them aside while I browned a couple of chicken leg-and-thigh sections in olive oil in a big skillet with some sliced onion. When the chicken pieces were "stiffened" and slightly browned, I poured in some of the artichoke cooking liquid, a little chicken broth, and a glug of white wine.
Poulet braisé aux cœurs d'artichauts et olives vertes
I let the chicken simmer for 20 minutes before I added the artichoke hearts and a big handful of pitted green olives to the pan. For flavor, I added pinches of dried thyme and dried oregano, some black pepper and some salt, and the juice of half a lemon. Then I let it all cook for another 10 or 15 minutes to make sure the artichoke hearts and the chicken were completely done.
The chicken I used was a beautiful poulet jaune du Gers (Label Rouge) that I had already cut up.
The lemony cooking liquid was really tasty, and the green olives tasted very lemony too — a little like citrons confits would taste, with a salty but pleasant bitterness. The artichoke hearts were tender, as was the chicken. This would be good with rice or pasta or steamed new potatoes. We had it without any of those, but with a big serving of tabbouleh salad that Walt made.