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Grilled chicken and artichokes flavored with a lemony marinade.

Oh, that first grilled meal of the season ... that's the real sign of spring, not some fickle groundhog.

This was how we inaugurated our grill this spring. I made this recipe first on the stovetop, and it was great, but on the grill it takes on that other element you get only with outdoor fire cooking. My husband said it was one of the best chicken dishes I have ever made, and I make a lot of chicken.

The chicken shared a citrusy, tangy marinade with a few handfuls of baby artichokes. Baby artichokes might seem to require a lot of effort, but they really don't, and they are so delicious and such a welcome sign of spring. Their pointy tops and the bottom need to be trimmed, and you should remove the tougher outer leaves. But because they don't have a choke, at this point you can leave them whole or cut in half and get them into the pan or, in this case, into a marinade and then onto the grill.

Can't find baby artichokes at the store? Use asparagus instead. I also made some steamed green beans on the side, tossed with a mustardy vinaigrette, to give the serving platter more texture and color

You can keep the artichokes and chicken separate during the marinating and cooking (just divide the marinade in half) if you are looking to please vegetarians at your gathering.

This recipe can easily be multiplied.

Lemony chicken and artichokes

Start to finish: 6 hours marinating, 45 minutes prepping and cooking.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

8 to 10 baby artichokes

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice


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1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup minced shallots

1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste

Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Cut each chicken thigh into two or three pieces, about 2-by-3 inches each, and trim off any excess fat.

In a large container or zipper top bag, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, shallots, capers, Sriracha, salt and pepper.

Trim the bottoms and pointy tops off the artichoke hearts, and remove any tough outer leaves. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. As you prepare each artichoke, make sure it goes right into the marinade to prevent browning, and that the cut side in particular is submerged in the marinade. Add the chicken to the marinade, making sure the marinade coats it. Marinate for 6 to 12 hours.

Heat the grill to medium high. Grill the chicken and the artichokes for about 5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned and cooked through.

Serve the chicken and artichokes hot or at room temperature.

Nutrition information per serving: 501 calories; 227 calories from fat; 26 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 160 mg cholesterol; 702 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrate; 14 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 42 g protein.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/