braised artichokes and, maybe, spring

At least with baby artichokes you don’t have to bother with the choke too. Usually one hasn’t grown in yet or if it has, it’s a few fluffy strands you can rub off with your fingers. That leaves you with just 75% of the artichoke pruning that needs to be done. Do it while watching TV or something, because one does not look away from baby artichokes at the market. If you do, for a minute, the season will be over. All too soon, it’s time to wrestle with their bigger, hairier brothers.

Braised Artichokes

You can make this a more substantial dish by adding cooked or canned white beans when you’re adding the broth.

1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
Kosher salt
8 small artichokes, outer leaves discarded, base and stem peeled and trimmed, top 3/4 of leaves cut and discarded, halved (or 4 large artichokes, in which case, scoop out the hairy choke too, and quarter them)
1/2 c dry white wine
1 c low-sodium vegetable broth + 1/2 c water
1 large sprig fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Bread for serving

Melt the butter and oil in a wide, high-sided pan or a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and sweat the onions, stirring occasionally, until they soften (4-5 minutes).

Meanwhile, slice prepared artichokes in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard the chokes. Place the artichokes, cut-side down, on the bottom of the pan, nestling them between the onions so they touch the surface and don’t overlap in order to caramelize. Cook without disturbing them for 4-5 minutes except to check the bottoms half way through to make sure they are caramelizing but not burning–adjust heat if needed. Add the white wine and let it mostly cook off, then add the stock, water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the sprig of dill. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Check doneness by gently piercing the thickest part of an artichoke with the tip of a sharp knife–there should be no resistance but if there is, cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat, discard dill sprig. Plate and garnish with reserved dill, then serve with bread.

Makes a light lunch or a starter course for 4.

This story and recipe appear in GREEN, Issue 017 of Le Sauce Magazine.