Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Artichoke Sauce

_MG_5051 _MG_5055I almost never order chicken at restaurants. Somehow, chicken has gotten the reputation for being "boring" and usually, I'm more interested in trying fish or some kind of meat. There is one chicken dish that I will always order, however – the chicken Milanese at I Nonni. I worked at I Nonni, a great Italian restaurant just outside of St. Paul, the summer after I graduated college and before I moved to New York. It was a great summer  – the last time (probably) that I would live at home with my parents, the last summer I could be "a kid". (You're still a kid at 22, right?) I worked two restaurant jobs pretty much every day for those three months to save up money so that I could move to NYC at the end of August, and the nights I toiled away at I Nonni, I would usually end up ordering the chicken for dinner. Something about the lemony-buttery-bitter artichoke combination appealed to me – and of course, the crispy chicken and peppery arugula didn't hurt either.

_MG_5067

_MG_5065Later that fall when I was feeling a little homesick, I attempted to create the chicken dish to  bring back  little bit of home into my apartment full of hand-me-down furniture and less-than-desirable neighbors. I've changed it a bit over the past few years, but every time I make this dish, it reminds me of home.

_MG_5058

Pan-Fried Chicken with Lemon-Aritchoke Sauce (serves 4-6)

6 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness

1/2-1 cup flour

2 eggs

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cups arugula

Parmiggiano Reggiano, for serving (optional)

Sauce:

6 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, chopped

2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

3/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons capers

Place the flour, eggs, and panko into three separate, shallow bowls. Season the flour, and whisk the eggs lightly with a fork. Coat one piece of chicken lightly with flour, then dip into eggs, then panko so that it is completely coated. Lay on a baking sheet or cutting board, and repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add 1-2 pieces of chicken (depending on the size of your pan) and fry until golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Keep cooked chicken warm in oven, and repeat with remaining pieces.

Once chicken is fried, let pan cool slightly, then melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. When it has melted, add  shallots and cook until soft and slightly transparent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add artichokes. Cook for 1 minute. Add wine, half and half and broth, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining butter and flour and cook until thickened slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice, slices, and capers, and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: place a piece of chicken over a handful of arugula on each plate. Spoon sauce over and shave a few pieces of parmiggiano reggiano over the sauce. Serve immediately.

Throwing a Party + Artichoke Dip

Last weekend, Ari turned 25 and rather than going out to dinner, we decided to throw a party. I, of course (voluntarily) was in charge of the food. Rather than hosting a sit-down dinner party which limits the number of guests and  the host's ability to interact with them, we opted to have a bunch of appetizers and dessert. Ari left it to me to come up with the menu, with only a couple of requests. I will admit it was kind of a challenge to make all of this in one day (the only thing I made ahead of time were the cake layers), but particularly if you have a willing sous chef it is definitely possible. My requirements for dishes were as follows: I could do some of the prep work in the morning, that they had similar cooking temperatures so I could have more than one thing in the oven at once, and third, that they could sit out for a while and still taste good.

With these requirements in mind, here is the menu I came up with:

Artichoke dip

Turkey meatballs with soy-glaze

Homemade ricotta crostini with honey

Simple winter salad

Creamed mushroom crostini

Crispy asparagus fries with roasted garlic aioli

Antipasti (purchased)

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate and Nutella Buttercream

I will be posting the recipes throughout the week, but for the first one, I give you artichoke dip. Inspired by the lovely ladies of Spoon Fork Bacon, this recipe comes together very quickly and makes for a low-maintenance but crowd-pleasing appetizer. Although definitely not low-fat. But hey, you only turn 25 once, right?

Artichoke Dip (from Spoon Fork Bacon)

1 head garlic, top sliced off

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

8-oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup mozzarella, grated

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used sriracha)

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

For topping:

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon parmesan, grated.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place garlic on a sheet of tinfoil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap foil around garlic and roasted until golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. When cool, squeeze into a large bowl and mash into a paste, discarding the peel. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. Scoop mixture into a medium-sized baking dish and sprinkle panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Unfortunately, as you can see I didn't get any prep pictures because I was running around like a crazy person trying to finish all of the other dishes. So alas, there are only a couple of pictures of the final dish. Stay tuned for the rest of the menu this week!