serves: 6 servings
Chicken braised in tomato sauce is always good but it's especially flavorful when chunks of fresh young artichokes are added to the cooking pot.
You can serve this with polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, or anything that will sop up the sauce. Some slices of grilled country bread are my favorite, particularly on a summer day. The dish tastes even better if it is cooked in advance and then allowed to cool and rest in the pot. Reheat just before serving.
If you have some left over, try pulling the remaining chicken off the bone and return it to the sauce, bring to the boil, and after letting it all cook for a few minutes, you have a great dressing for pasta. I like rigatoni or shells with it.
1½ pounds small artichokes
1 lemon, (for acidulated water)
1 chicken, about 4 pounds
1½ teaspoons salt, to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
¼ teaspoon peperoncino, or to taste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Trim the artichokes and cut them into halves or wedges, about 1-1/2 inches wide; soak them in acidulated water.
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Cut it up into 10 or 12 pieces (including the backbone) and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Heat the olive oil in the big saucepan over medium-high heat and lay in the chicken pieces without crowding-cook them in batches if necessary. Brown the pieces for about 3 minutes, turn and cook another 3 minutes until each is nicely colored on all sides. Remove the pieces to a platter or bowl.
When the chicken is all out of the pan, drop the crushed garlic into the hot fat and cook it for a minute or two, until sizzling. Lift the artichoke wedges out of the water and drop them, still damp, into the saucepan. Stir well and season them with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the peperoncino.
Cook the artichokes for 4 or 5 minutes, tossing them often and deglazing the browned bits on the pan bottom. When the artichokes are dry and starting to take on color, pour in the wine and cook over high heat, stirring, until it is nearly evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the tomatoes and 3 cups of water; slosh the tomato containers with some of the water to rinse them. Cover the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady bubbling and cook the artichokes and sauce for about 15 minutes.
Return all the chicken pieces (and any accumulated juices in the platter) to the saucepan, submerging them in the sauce. Cover the pan, get the sauce perking again and cook chicken and artichokes together for about 40 minutes. The chicken should be nearly done, the artichokes tender and the sauce somewhat reduced. Set the cover ajar-or remove it altogether-and continue cooking 15 minutes or more until the sauce has thickened and coats the chicken and artichoke pieces. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve right away or-for the best flavor-let the chicken cool in the pot and reheat later. If the sauce has thickened, stir in a bit of water. Serve hot from the pan or from a big bowl, if you prefer. Sprinkle over the parsley just before serving.