Roast chicken with fennel and baby artichokes

After what felt like three endless months of Polar Vortex, a momentary jolt of spring came this weekend. Sometimes unusual weather is all it takes to spur creativity. If the weather doesn't have to be the same today as it was yesterday, then why should my food be? So, spring cooking earlier than expected.

Whereas full-sized artichokes rightfully have a reputation as ornery -- threatening teeth outside and itchy, hairy hearts inside -- working with the babies is a breeze. 

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. baby artichokes

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 bulb fennel, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

1 cup chicken broth (or water or white wine)

Juice of 2 lemons

Peel of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp. chili flakes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the artichokes under cold water; peel off the first couple layers of tough, dark green leaves to reveal the gentler ones inside; chop off the top half inch of each choke; and halve or quarter the tender remains. Keep the halves in a bowl with a tablespoon of the lemon juice to prevent browning.

Over high heat, brown the chicken thighs in olive oil with salt and pepper. Remove them from the pan and add the fennel and onion, scraping any brown bits off the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook the fennel and onion until soft and semi-translucent, no more than 5 to 10 minutes. Clear a small space on the pan and add the chili flakes, allowing them to brown for 30 seconds before stirring them in. Then add the lemon peel, remaining lemon juice, chicken broth, and artichokes. Fold it all together, place the chicken thighs on top, and roast in the over for 15 to 20 minutes. The thighs should be a golden brown and the liquid almost full evaporated into a nice sauce. Serve over rice or Israeli couscous.