By Sierra French Myerson
I heart-a-chockes. Yep, nothing like one of my favorite vegetables to bring out my really good “dad jokes”. No shame here. “What did the green bean say to the eggplant?”…ok, no, not really.
But, seriously, artichokes make me happy. Some people don’t get them. “Too much work with not enough payoff.” I suppose I could understand that, what with the teeth scraping and inner beard cleaning. Eww that sounded inappropriately dirty. But, I dare these haters to try artichokes again in the height of their season; and, the braised way.
It was during a conversation with one of these artichoke bigots that it dawned on me…to braise. He kept saying that except for the heart the scoured bits from the leaves tasted like nothing more than the mayonnaise in which they were dipped. I clearly disagreed, but it got me to thinking about how to infuse flavor into the hearty veg pre-creamy sauce dunk.
This last winter, I officially became a braised chicken bitch. At least twice a week, I was browning and drowning my chicken thighs in lemon, wine, and aromatics, and it never got tired. Every last bit had exceptional flavor. Not a bland bite on the bone. Ok, then why not mimic this with my robust friend, the artichoke?
Well, a bright idea it was! (I know I wasn’t the first to think of it, but I’m darn pleased with myself nevertheless.) Every drag and pull on the leaves equalled an especially flavorful morsel. Though, I used the braising liquid to make a simple sauce to accompany the artichokes, I vote to try them first as is. Embrace thy Mediterranean vegetable flavor bomb.
What you’ll need:
2 - 4 good sized artichokes, trimmed and halved lengthwise*
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 lemons, juiced and halves
Reserved 6 - 8 cups of water
4 - 6 Tb of butter, cold and cubed Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large 8-10 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook until fragrant. Add artichokes cut side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes until heart is slightly browned.
Flip over artichokes. Add wine, lemon juice, reserved squeezed lemon halves, water to cover, and a good sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a steady simmer.
Cook artichokes until tender, about 45 minutes. Pull off an outside leaf and test for tenderness. Remove artichokes to a platter; cover to keep warm.
Reserve 2 cups of the braising liquid. Discard the rest. Return reserved liquid to pot. Cook at medium heat until reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add butter; whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over the artichokes, or serve on the side as dipping sauce.
*Be sure to pull off all of the tough outer leaves. They won’t soften up unless you overcook the rest of the artichoke. I also like to remove the artichoke “beard” with a pairing knife before I cook them. It makes for a neater eating experience.
Makes 2-6 servings. I always like to make extras. They are so good as a chilled leftover snack.