'Tis the season. Artichoke season. My very favorite vegetable of all time. They are ripe and living large in a grocery store near you. Easiest thing in the world to prepare. You just steam them for 50 minutes. Then you peel the leaves off of the artichoke, dip them in melted garlic butter and scrape that delicious meat off of the base of the leaf with your teeth.
And that is how I prepared them for decades. All that changed two weeks ago when Mark Bittman took me to the land of rainbows and unicorns and showed me how artichokes are prepared there. First, you do not cook them whole. You split them down the middle.
This actually serves two good purposes. First, it dramatically increases the surface area for cooking and gives you a flat surface to brown. Second, it allows you to remove the furry choke in advance, so you don't have to do it while you are eating. By browning and braising the artichoke, you are ramping up the flavor by a power of 10! Artichokes pair perfectly with beef, pork, poultry or seafood.
4 medium artichokes
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup chicken stock, or more as needed
Freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
- Cut each of the artichokes in half; remove the toughest outer leaves, use a spoon to remove the choke and trim the stem.
- Put 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it melts and foam subsides, add artichokes, cut side down. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add stock (it should come about halfway up the sides of the artichokes), bring to a boil and cover; turn heat to medium-low. Cook for about 20 minutes or until tender, checking every 5 or 10 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan, adding more stock as necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and transfer artichokes to serving platter.
- Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a sauce. Stir in lemon juice and remaining tablespoon butter; taste and adjust seasoning. Serve artichokes drizzled with sauce.