Sunday, March 1, 2009
braised artichoke hearts
This recipe is a work in progress. I adapted this dish from a recipe in Gourmet, November 2008. The flavors were great, but I struggled with the recipe a little bit. First of all, I kind of butchered the artichokes. I love artichokes but I've never tried to cook just the hearts before. I found this great video that shows how to prep them but, of course I didn't bother looking for a video until after I had already brutalized them. I wound up only photographing the halves of two artichoke hearts because the rest of the hearts were a big pile o' mess. Oh well, they don't look so pretty but they still taste good!
I really liked the process of braising the artichokes, but I think in the future I would prep and finish the dish a little differently. I would simply trim the leaves and chop off the top inch of the artichoke then braise the whole thing, rather than just the hearts. Because you have to remove the furry, inedible choke after they are braised, I think it would be easier to work with if you just keep the artichoke intact up until that point. Plus, I like eating the leaves! I was following the recipe from a page pulled from the November issue, but I noticed, in the online version of the recipe, they simplified the instructions for how to prep the hearts. Maybe I wasn't the first person to find them unclear.
To let the artichoke flavor shine, I'd also skip adding more olive oil and lemon juice at the end of the recipe. I thought it got overpowered a bit by the lemon. Then again, Kenny liked the lemon flavor, so it's debatable. Some toasted breadcrumbs scattered over top would add a nice crunch. Despite some issues with the recipe, I was still happy with how the dish came out!
8 medium artichokes
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, finely sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
salt, black pepper to taste
Trim artichokes into hearts:
Add some lemon juice to a large bowl of cold water. You will use this to prevent the artichokes from browning while you prep them. Cut off the top one inch of an artichoke and bend back outer leaves until they snap off close to base. Discard several more layers in same manner until you reach pale yellow leaves. Cut remaining leaves flush with the top of the artichoke bottom. Trim fibrous dark green parts from base and sides. Peel sides of stem down to pale inner core. Put in lemon water while preparing remaining artichokes.
Heat a 1/4 cup oil in a heavy soup pot. Pot should be wide enough to hold artichokes in 1 layer with stems pointing upward. Cook the red onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes, until the red onion starts to become soft. Add carrot and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add water and 3 Tbsp lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Stand artichokes in pot and season with salt and pepper. Cover pot with a lid, and simmer over medium low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. (*note: You can make this recipe a day in advance. If you wish to do so, stop at this point and allow the pot to cool before putting it in the fridge to chill. When you are ready to resume the recipe, bring the pot back up to warm before proceeding.)
Transfer artichokes to a dish and reserve cooking liquid. When artichokes are cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise. Scoop out and discard inner choke (fuzzy center and any sharp leaves).
Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium high heat until it shimmers, then place artichokes cut sides down and brown, about 2 minutes. You might want to work in batches to brown them. Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish. Add reserved cooking liquid to the skillet along with remaining Tbsp lemon juice and remaining 2 Tbsp oil. Boil vigorously 3 minutes, then spoon over artichokes. Serve warm or at room temperature.