I'm especially excited to share this recipe with you today because it comes from one of my Le Cordon Blue – Paris classmates, Aida Mollenkamp. You may recognize her name as she's gone on to craft a pretty interesting career in the food biz, but back when I knew her she was fresh out of college and following her passion for food and entertaining by working toward her "Grande Diplome" at LCB.
While you can choose to study savory cuisine or pastry at LCB, the "Le Grande Diplome" program requires that you study both over the course of three trimesters, Basic – Intermediate – Superior. Our days there started with a demonstration lecture and ended with hands-on "practical" sessions where we retired to the school's kitchens to cook the meal we had watched our chef cook that morning. While each student had his/her own stove in the kitchen we all shared work space on long stainless prep tables. As luck would have it, Aida and I set up as neighbors right from the start, and while most of our work in the kitchen was individual, much as you would in choosing a lab partner in science class, you discover pretty quickly the value of sharing space with someone who knows what they're doing and works smartly, efficiently, and cleanly. Lucky for me, Aida was one of those people.
We pretty quickly developed a good working relationship, cheering each other on when things were going well, watching each other's backs and pitching in to help when they weren't. We came to trust each other as critics before we presented our dishes to the chef at the end of each class, offering each other tastes of what we were preparing and asking for an honest opinion. "what's missing"….."is there enough salt"….."how the hell are you plating this dish"? At the end of our time together in Paris we parted good friends and I've enjoyed watching her build her impressive culinary career from a distance.
These days I keep on top of what she's up to by checking out her website and catching her two shows that air on both the Cooking Channel and the Food Network, "Ask Aida" and "Food Crafters". Given that she's a California girl and I'm an east coast guy we haven't had the opportunity to connect in many years, but I'm confident that one day our paths will cross again. Until then, I "visit" her when I need a fix by watching some of her on-line videos, flipping through her great cookbook Aida Mollenkamp's Keys to the Kitchen , or cooking some of her terrific food. Check out the video below to meet Aida for yourself, and to get the skinny on this healthy, simple and delicious chicken and artichoke dish.
Cheers – Steve
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless-skinless chicken, large dice
- 1 1/2 cups quartered artichoke hearts, canned, jarred, or frozen and thawed
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup lightly packed thinly sliced basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken chunks with salt and pepper. When the oil shimmers, chicken pieces (working in batches if you must so as not to overcrowd the pan) and brown well on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan. Add onion and garlic, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Add chicken back to pan along with artichoke hearts and cook until the artichoke is slightly broken down, about 3 minutes.
- Add wine, water and lemon juice, and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Cook until the alcohol smell is cooked off and sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil and lemon zest and serve.