I was completely sucked into a marketing ploy at the Harris-Teeter the other day, but it all worked out because that’s how I discovered the “little beaks,” which is what piquillo means in Spanish. Harris Teeter had put these lovely cans of peppers along with cans of artichoke hearts on an end cap, which are those shelves at the end of the grocery aisles where you get tempted to buy things you don’t need. Only I needed those peppers and I didn’t even know it.
Piquillo peppers (which I am quite sure are pronounced “pee-killo” in the South) are like roasted red peppers with refinement. They are small and delicate. They are intensely sweet and not at all spicy. They are my new favorite vegetable and if my head was tiny enough I’d wear them as a hat. A jaunty little pepper hat.
So in Spain they serve these piquillo peppers whole as part of a tapas, a small plate. That’s kind of an interesting image: a little beak on a small plate. Actually, that’s kind of disturbing.
But I digress. I cut the peppers into strips and quartered the artichoke hearts. Don’t they look pretty? I almost stopped here, but I didn’t think the boys would enjoy raw peppers and artichoke hearts for supper.
When I am making up a recipe (professionals call it “developing” a recipe but that’s just pretentious), I know there are certain foods that love each other. Chicken stock and lemon juice love each other. Add cream to that and you have a menage a trois from a food porn movie.
And that’s what I did. Cooked some chicken breasts (recipe follows, of course), deglazed the pan with chicken stock and lemon juice, added cream and then added the peppers and artichokes. Let the chicken take a nice warm bath and then served them with thin spaghetti.
Well, I am not too humble to say that the combination was absolutely delicious. I am pretty sure that Terrell will be e-mailing me any second about where to find Piquillo Peppers in the grocery store. If you haven’t met Terrell yet, he’s my long-distance boyfriend and Mark is completely okay with that.
So here’s the recipe. And, Terrell, when you ask the grocery clerk for help in finding them, it’s “pe-kee-yo”, not “pee-killo”. But you are far more refined than I am so I am absolutely sure you already knew that.
Chicken with Piquillo Peppers and Artichokes
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered lengthwise
12 canned piquillo peppers, cut into strips
½ cup chicken stock
Juice of one lemon
1 pint cream
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and sauté them in oil over medium heat until cooked through (160 degrees internal temperature). Set aside in a warm oven (170 degrees).
Drain any oil from the pan and add the chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits. Add the lemon juice and reduce by half over medium high heat. Add the cream and grated cheese and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened. Add the artichoke hearts, peppers and chicken. Stir to combine.
Serve over pasta or rice.