I never developed much of a relationship with artichokes growing up in Detroit. For the past 35 years in California, the artichokes I’ve had were usually steamed, served with a dip, and were confusing to eat. How far into the artichoke do you go before you can eat the whole leaf and not just chew off the edible portion?
At your local farmers' market, there are fresh artichokes of all sizes. Most are grown near Watsonville, CA which is near Gilroy, the Garlic Capital. This week's recipe utilizes another option for cooking the artichokes which infuses them with local flavor and makes them easy to eat. At first they are a little daunting to prepare, but it's easy once you get the hang of it.
I love this dish. It has transformed the way I think about artichokes.
- 2 large or 4 medium artichokes
- 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- Small handful fresh thyme sprigs
- Small handful fresh parsley sprigs
- 1 cup water or mixture of water and dry white wine
- Salt and pepper
Cut 1" off the top of the leaves of the artichoke and trim about 1/4" off the bottom of the stem. (I use kitchen scissors to trim the leaves on the sides of large artichokes.) Peel the stems with a vegetable peeler. Cut the large artichokes into quarters lengthwise or the medium artichokes in half. Using a paring knife, cut out the fuzzy stuff on the top of the artichoke heart and the purple leaves just above the fuzz. Keep the artichokes submerged in water or rub them all over with lemon juice so they don't discolor.
In a deep skillet that can be covered, heat 4 Tbsp olive oil until shimmering. Add the artichokes and garlic cloves. Sauté briefly. Stir in the thyme and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully add 1/4 cup water or wine. Cover and braise for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are browned in places and the stems and heart are tender.
Scoop all the vegetables onto a serving platter. Add 3/4 cup water or wine to the pan, deglazing all the brown bits, and reducing the liquid by about half. The liquid will be a dark brown. Pour it into a small bowl. Add two peeled garlic cloves into the bowl. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and a little more seasoning. Mash the garlic with a fork and whisk the sauce a little. Drizzle this over the soft and browned artichokes.
Serve with a crusty bread covered with more squeezed garlic. You can actually eat the soft artichoke pulp off of a number of leaves at once.