Inside Park at St. Bart's Restaurant Executive Chef Matthew Weingarten's innovative take on chicken and rice features farro, the ancient grain grown for centuries in Italy and the Middle East, which imparts a wholesome nuttiness and a perfect complement to the accompanying artichokes.
For the farro:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 stalks celery, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
1 small onion, small dice
Pinch of salt
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig marjoram
2 cups farro
1 quart water
For the artichokes:
¼ cup olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 artichokes, cleaned
2 tablespoons salt
2 quarts water
2 cups white wine
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon (reserved from above)
¼ cup chopped parsley
For the chicken:
6 boneless skin-on chicken breasts, preferably French-cut (with the piece of the wing attached)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil, divided
1 quart chicken stock, warmed
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh marjoram or oregano
6 garlic cloves, sliced into thick coins
To make the farro, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and a pinch of salt and cook until vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Tie the rosemary, thyme, and marjoram together in a piece of cheesecloth to make a sachet. Add the faro and the sachet to the pot and toss to coat. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are swelled and tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
To make the artichokes, heat the olive oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, coriander seeds, bay leaves, thyme, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes and cook until onions are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the artichokes and coat well. Add salt and water, bring to simmer, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the wine, vinegar, and lemon juice. Cover with parchment paper and a heatproof plate to keep the artichokes submerged, and cook for 15 more minutes, until a fork is easily inserted into the artichoke. Add the chopped parsley and transfer to an ice bath, most easily done by putting a stopper in your sink and filling the sink with ice and water. Once the artichokes are cooled, transfer them with their liquid to a container, cover and refrigerate. They will keep this way for about a month since they are essentially pickled.
To make the chicken, preheat the oven to 450°F. Season the chicken lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the chicken breasts skin side down and cook until the skin is golden, about 4-5 minutes without moving the chicken (this helps the chicken get browned and crisp). It is important not to crowd the pan or the skin will not sear properly. If necessary, work in batches, searing the skin then setting the breasts aside to sear the rest. Then return them all to the same pan and continue. Turn the chicken over and add the chicken stock (the liquid should reach half way up the breast, so if your pan is too small, do not use all the liquid). Add the thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and garlic to the pan and bring mixture to a boil. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts.
While the chicken is in the oven, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat sauté the artichokes until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Remove the chicken from the pan. Taste the remaining broth for seasoning. This combination of the natural roasting chicken juices and fragrant herbs will serve as your sauce.
To serve, spoon some farro and 2 to 3 artichokes onto each plate. Place the chicken breasts on top and spoon the natural juices around the meat.
1. According to chef Weingarten, the key to a moist chicken breast is never allowing the flesh side to touch direct heat.
2. Farro can be found at most heath food stores or Italian markets. If farro is not available, bulgur or brown rice can be substituted.
3. Canned artichokes can be substituted for the artichoke recipe here. Look for a good brand of whole artichokes with only four ingredients: artichokes, water, citric acid, and salt. If using canned artichokes, skip the initial step of simmering the artichokes and skip to the sauté step.
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