There used to be this great restaurant called Paradise Cafe on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence. It was kind of a hippie place with a smallish menu, but what they had was usually really tasty. My favorite thing there was the artichoke chicken, a tender chicken breast with artichoke hearts in a savory cream sauce, served over brown rice.
Paradise went out of business a long time ago. I have never been able to find a recipe that comes close to that artichoke chicken. This one was closer, but still not quite there; maybe it needed a little more cream.
Lemon-Artichoke Chicken (serves 4-6)
4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (about 8 oz. each), rinsed, dried, and cut into 2-inch chunks (alternatively, leave them whole and pound them to an even thickness of 1/4 to 1/2 inch.)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 14-oz cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup cognac or dry sherry
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half, in a pinch)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a saute pan, melt the butter and saute the chicken until well browned. There should be crust in the pan. Transfer chicken to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and add artichoke hearts.
To the saute pan, add the cognac, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring and scraping to remove the browned bits in the pan. Allow to simmer for about five minutes, until the cognac no longer smells strongly of alcohol. Remove from heat. Add cream and stir. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake until sauce is bubbling and golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes.