Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dutch Oven Artichoke and Veggie Chicken

My wife and I recently got invited to attend an awards dinner. Unfortunately, we weren’t the ones receiving any awards. Oh, well. Someday, I’ll get to thank the Academy and all the little people that have helped me along the way...

:-)

But the dinner was great! It was this delicious chicken breast surrounded by veggies. It had a bit of citrus and acidic twang to it, too. So, I thought I’d give it a try in my Dutch ovens, along with some variations. These mostly come in the form of the various veggies you can add in, depending on what you’ve got.

I decided to serve it all on a bed of brown rice, which was also different from the formal dinner we attended.

12” Dutch oven
24+ coals below for searing stage
10-12 below for baking stage
24-26 above

8” Dutch oven
12+ coals below

6-8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (we buy them frozen in a bag). Make sure these are well-thawed.
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Paprika
Garlic powder
Dried parsley
Dried oregano
2-3 medium to large potatoes
1-2 medium to large onions

Vegetables to put on top
1 bottle or can (about 14oz) brined or pickled artichoke hearts
15-20 cherry tomatoes
2-3 stalks celery
2-3 carrots

1-2 lemons

2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
a cube of chicken bullion
salt

The first step was to prepare the chicken, which I did while the coals and the Dutch oven were getting hot. I made sure that the chicken was well-thawed, and pat dry with paper towels. One problem with chicken breasts is that the middle is much thicker than the edges, so it’s a little more difficult to regulate the cooking. If I were to do this again, I would pound the chicken a little thinner with one of those meat tenderizer mallets. Not so flat like you do for a cordon bleu or some other kind of roll-up, but just so that it’s not so thick in the middle.  Then I drizzled on some oil, and rubbed in the spices and herbs, onto both sides.

I put a lot (a couple of dozen) of coals underneath my Dutch oven, and I let it get really hot with a little oil drizzled on the bottom.

Once it was hot, I set in 3-4 of the breasts and let them sear a little on each side. Then, I pulled those out, let the Dutch oven heat up again (you might even want to replenish the coals) , and I finished the remaining 3-4 breasts. They should have a little brown and the spice rub should be nicely cooked on. It’s OK if it’s not cooked all the way through, though. We’re going to bake it still.

Then, I set up the Dutch oven with the coals configured for baking (the second set of numbers above). I cubed up the potatoes into large chunks about 3/4” to 1” big. Then I cut up the onions into big 1/8th chunks. By that, I mean, I cut each onion in half, and then each half into quarters. All of these got tossed into the bottom of the Dutch oven and stirred up a bit, to coat with the oil.

On top of that, I layered the browned chicken breasts, and I arranged them so that they were overlapping as little as possible. I put on the lid and put on the coals for baking.

Then I started slicing up the other veggies. They should be sliced thin, on the bias, if possible, so that there isn’t much thickness and they can cook more quickly. I chopped and diced the artichoke hearts coarsely, just to make the bits a little smaller. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half once. Then, I scattered all of these over the chicken breasts. I poured the artichoke brine over the chicken as well, and, after zesting one of the lemons, added the zest and the juice of the lemons as well. I let that cook for about a half hour.

Making the rice is easy, too. I added the rice, the bouillon, salt, and the water to the Dutch oven and set it, with the lid on, on the coals specified. I watched for it to start venting steam out from the side of the lid, showing me that it was boiling. I gave it about another 10-12 minutes before removing it from the coals. Without lifting the lid, I just set it aside to cool down and to finish cooking. I let it go for quite a while, because brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. I had to resist the temptation to lift the lid and check it! I wanted the steam to stay in and cook the rice.

When it was all done, and time to serve, it smelled delicious, and looked great. I spread a bit of rice on the plate, then added the chicken breast and the veggies. I scooped a bit of potato and onion onto the plate, too, then drizzled some of the broth liquid from the bottom of the Dutch oven over the entire entree. It was a great meal!


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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