My memories of artichokes go hand in hand with memories of some kind of semi traumatic occurrence; bees, nettles, spikes. If it wasn’t the bees whose hives where just there it was the artichokes with their sharp spikes that got me. I thought I was careful and organised when I walked to the artichoke field after lunch. It was the best time in the day as Thia Koula and Thios Nikos went to sleep for an hour or so after their enormous lunch and a few glasses of red which of course was “good for you”.
I was not allowed to pick artichokes because the artichokes where to be saved and to be cooked with broad beans or lamb when the time was right. I of course picked them all the time and I thought that I would never get caught. So, after eating my raw artichokes with lemon and salt I used to walk back down to the house where all were awake after their afternoon nap. When confronted regarding my doings I denied confidently every time. “ I have not been eating artichokes!” I used to say with my stained lips and teeth that blatantly gave away exactly what I was doing.
The recipe below combines artichokes, feta and fenugreek to make a sauce for the chicken that is heavenly.
Grilled chicken fillets with artichokes & spiced feta & fenugreek pot
Serves 2-4 as a sharing plate
2 chicken fillets from the finest chickens available (about 400g)
Spice rub for the chicken: 1tsp ground black pepper, 1tsp dried thyme, 1/2tsp smoked paprika. 1/2tsp ground fenugreek
4tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
250g red horn peppers, sliced
300g red ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
1tsp dried oregano
3 large globe artichokes (about 400g each), prepared and hearts cut into eights *
150ml white wine
200g feta cheese
60g pastrouma (cured beef with fenugreek and spices)
Chopped parsley to garnish
- Rub the spices on the chicken fillets and allow them to sit for about an hour in the fridge.
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil followed by the garlic cloves. Toss around until the garlic becomes golden and add the red peppers. Cook for a few minutes until the peppers begin to soften and add the tomatoes, chilli, oregano, artichokes and wine to the pot. Place a lid over the pan and allow to cook for about 20-30 minutes. At this point the sauce should have come together and the artichokes should be tender. If this is the case add the feta and pastrouma and give everything a final stir. Check the seasoning and turn the heat off.
- If you have a charcoal grill, cook the fillets over medium heat without too much rotation as this will result in loosing all the nice juices. Cook for about 5 minutes per side or until the chicken is just cooked. After you take the fillet from the fire let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it and serving it.
- If you don’t have a fire then place the fillets on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook under your oven grill for about 10-15 minutes.
- To serve
- Place the feta and artichoke sauce on the bottom of a plate and the sliced chicken fillet on top. Drizzle with some olive oil, and some freshly chopped parsley.
- Serve with fresh bread and lemon wedges.
- * If the artichoke has a stem, cut it off as its quite tough. using your fingers start pulling away the green leaves away from the artichoke and discard them. if you are finding this too tough by hand then use a pair of scissors. Stop removing the leaves as soon as you reach the pale tender ones. Now cut the artichoke in half lengthways. pull away the purple leaves at the center as well as the hairy tough bits; they are inedible. Trim away any green bits left on the artichoke and make sure you are left with the tender heart and some pale leaves. place them in a bowl with water and half a lemon to stop them from going black until needed