Leeks are at their best in the fall. So pretty and ornamental stately swaying in your garden through the summer, the tops often fade to a bluish green color (wish I could find a cozy cashmere sweater the same shade) as the weather cools. Unless you’ve had unusually dry weather you can use the whole leek from white stem to green top.
Invite your guests into the kitchen (or keep them out of the kitchen) with a flute of Prosecco and a splash of campari (lime optional) while you cook the pasta and arrange dinner on a platter.
Leeks w/ Roasted Chicken Thighs and PastaServes 4 (with leftovers – maybe)
Marinate up to 1 hour:
6 chicken thighs — bone in
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Grated rind of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
Pre-heat oven to 400 F bake
If you have an All-Clad sauté pan or other oven safe pan, brush the bottom with olive oil, (If you don’t use a cookie sheet with sides so fat won’t drip into the bottom of your oven). Remove the rosemary sprigs, place chicken thighs in sauté pan and place on the top oven rack, bake 10 minutes. If the tops are not browned turn oven to broil and watch closely while the tops brown, it will take less than a minute.
While the chicken is marinating clean the artichokes and make the sauce
4 fresh or canned artichoke hearts
1 clove garlic
3 plum tomatoes
1 bulb fennel
1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup reduced chicken stock or bouillon cube
1 cup white wine
Slice off 3 inches from the top of the artichoke. Pull back leaves to reveal heart. Use a spoon to remove the choke. Squeeze a lemon into a quart of cool water, drop artichoke hearts into water.
Remove any yellowish outer leaves on leeks, slice in half lengthwise and wash under cool running water fanning out leaves to remove any sand. Slice each half in half lengthwise then across in a small dice, use the whole leek. Slice fennel bulb in half lengthwise, bite into the fennel stalk to find out where it begins to get woody; use as much of the stalk as possible. Pull fronds off fennel stalks and set aside for a garnish. Slice fennel bulb in a one-half inch dice, slice stalk in similar size pieces. Mash or dice garlic, dice tomatoes and trim artichokes to reveal the hearts. Slice artichoke hearts in half lengthwise then each half in lengthwise pieces about one-half inch wide.
Remove chicken pieces to a platter and use the sauté pan to make sauce; bring to medium heat, add olive oil and leeks and sauté about 4 minutes, add fennel and sauté another 4 minutes, add garlic cook about 30 seconds, add tomatoes cook another 4 minutes, then add artichoke hearts and let it go for about 3 minutes. Turn heat to high for about 1 minute, then splash in white wine, let it bubble up for a minute, add bouillon or warm stock, nestle half-cooked chicken thighs in the sauce, cover and cook over a medium low heat for about 15 minutes. Add more wine or stock to keep thighs about one-third covered w/ liquid, lower the heat. Leave cover off during last 5 minutes of cooking, sprinkle fennel seeds on top when you remove cover. Optional: pop under the broiler again for a minute to crisp the chicken skin.
1 pound spaghetti
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserve 2 cups pasta water.
Remove chicken thighs from sauce and set aside. Pour drained hot pasta into the pan with the artichoke sauce and toss or stir to mix pasta into sauce, mix in 1 cup of pasta water, heap onto large serving platter. Arrange chicken pieces around the outside of the platter, sprinkle with one-half cup grated cheese, then the fennel fronds, and finally use a microplane to grate the lime rind over the platter. Pass red pepper flakes and remaining grated cheese at the table.
Aromatic, pretty to look at, and luscious – just waiting for you to dig in!
You could also serve over polenta, alongside risotto, or on its own with a hearty salad.