Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Creamy Artichoke Chicken

This recipe was born of one of those flexible (ahem...stressful) moments on the mission field.  We were hosting a going away party for an elderly Dutch lady in our church who was returning to Holland.  At the last minute she called saying that she had invited six more people to attend.  I looked at the roast beef I had planned (which had looked gigantic before getting all the fat cooked out of it) and knew I couldn't stretch it that far.  I would need a second main course!  All I had on hand was some individually frozen chicken tenderloins.  So with less than half an hour until show time and no plan in mind, I threw them into a skillet with a frantic prayer, "Please Lord?!?! Make something good of this!"  They were still frozen!  I could see them quickly browning on the outside, but knew I would need some liquid for them to cook through.  I found a long-forgotten jar of marinated artichokes in the back of my cupboard and threw them in, juice and all.  I made a quick cream sauce, sprinkled half my spice rack over top and viola--dinner was served.  This dish wound up being the star of the show. Evidently the tangy cream sauce appealed to the Western European palate...who knew?  I guess the Lord did.  I didn't know quite how to respond to the rave reviews...I said "thank you" (not wanting to burden anyone with my stress), but had to keep returning thanks to the Lord, who really is "a very present help in trouble"--even if trouble is in the kitchen!

Creamy Artichoke Chicken
Serves: 6
Prep time: 30 minutes (may vary depending on how stressed you are and how hard you pray)

1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced (or tenderloins)
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
1 tablespoons oil for frying
1 (14 oz.) jar/can of marinated (quartered) artichokes*
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup chicken broth (or hot water + 1 tsp. powdered chicken bouillon)
3 tablespoons flour 
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¼ cup Parmesan cheese and/or sour cream (not part of the "original" recipe, but a nice addition)
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh parsley

Thinly slice and season chicken with garlic, salt and pepper.  
Sear over high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned  (do not overcook, although thicker chicken will require more cooking time.  Individually frozen tenderloins may be cooked from frozen.  Increase cook time by 3 minutes).  

In the same skillet, add artichokes (with juice) and spices and simmer over medium low heat until it bubbles.  
Blend (or shake in sealed container) chicken broth and flour together until smooth.  Pour slowly into artichokes and chicken, stirring gently until gravy forms.  
Pour can of evaporated milk in slowly. Simmer for 1 minute, stirring gently.  
Stir in parmesan cheese and/or sour cream and simmer 3 minutes.  
Add more chicken broth if the sauce gets too thick. 
Serve immediately over pasta or rice.  Garnish with freshly ground pepper and chopped parsley.

*If marinated artichokes are not available, use:
1 can plain artichokes with juice 
3 T. olive oil
3 T. white vinegar
1 T. Italian seasoning (or other herb blend)
(marinated artichokes vary; adjust seasonings to taste) 

If individually frozen meats are not available in your area, you may want to prepare some to have on hand in a pinch.  Cut to the desired size, sprinkle with sea salt and soak for 1/2 hour in cold water.  Then arrange pieces 1/2 inch apart on a cookie sheet and place in freezer for 1 hour.  Flip pieces over and freeze again for at least 1 hour.  (Faster in a deep freezer).  When pieces are frozen on the outside, place in a ziplock bag or airtight container and use within 2 months to avoid freezer burn.

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