One of my favorite ways to enjoy artichokes is to dip and slurp them simultaneously. This recipe was inspired by a summer visit to one of Aspen’s great outdoor restaurants, D19, which sadly will be reincarnated as another restaurant in the fall. Braising an artichoke combines sautéing and poaching in an aromatic broth, drawing out its subtle flavors while keeping it moist. Succulent and savory, the leaves practically melt in your mouth, especially when dipped into this lemony sauce.
Though many chefs will pare the artichokes down to their cores, I hate to waste all those delicious leaves and lose an opportunity to eat with my hands. The thing that usually dissuades cooks from coming near an artichoke is all the trimming required. Attempting to tame those spiky leaves and hairy chokes can be a little dodgy with bare hands. So I always don a pair of rubber gloves before preparing these. If you prefer, leave the choke-scooping until after the artichokes have been cooked, as I recently discovered they remove much easier that way!
Since I always have a bottle of leftover champagne in the fridge, I tried it in place of the Pinot Grigio and the results were equally delicious. Fill the warm centers of the artichokes with a little dip, or serve it in a decorative dish on the side. And don’t forget a soup spoon and some good crusty bread to mop up the heavenly broth.
What to do with the leftover artichokes? Don’t toss them! Save the artichokes and broth to put in a salad, risotto, pasta, or braised fish dish. Check out Tom Colicchio’s great ideas at Eat, Drink or Die. For some creative inspiration using artichokes as table decoration, go to 90210-Style: Summer Entertaining.
3-4 medium to large artichokes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups Pinot Grigio or another dry white wine
2 cups (1 quart) vegetable or chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh mint
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Creamy Lemon Caper Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (whole)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 tablespoon chopped chives or green onions
Zest and juice of one lemon
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top inch of the artichoke and discard. Pull off the tough outer leaves. Using a paring knife, carve away any tough leaves at the bottom of the artichoke. Cut off the stem if it is tough; or leave it in place, paring away the tough outer fibers. Rub the cut parts of the artichoke with the lemon half and repeat with the remaining artichokes.
1. Have ready a large bowl of ice water and two lemons that have been cut in halves. Now trim the artichokes: Using a sharp knife, cut off the top inch of the artichoke and discard. Pull off the tough outer leaves. Using a paring knife, carve away any tough leaves at the bottom of the artichoke, then trim the stem to about 3 inches long. Cut off the stem if it is tough; or leave it in place, paring away the tough outer fibers. Rub the cut parts of the artichoke with a lemon half, then place it in the ice water, squeezing the lemon juice into the water and then tossing it into the bowl. Repeat with remaining artichokes.
2. In a large soup pot that will fit all the artichokes tightly, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic briefly until fragrant, being careful not to burn it.
3. Add the artichokes and stir to coat them in the garlic oil.
4. Add the wine, broth, mint sprigs, red pepper flakes, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. The artichokes need not be fully submerged. Bring to a simmer, then adjust the flame to very low, cover the pot, and cook until the artichokes are soft and the bottoms are easily punctured by a paring knife, about an hour.
5. While the artichokes are cooking, prepare the Lemon Caper Tartar Sauce: in a small bowl, combine all the ingredients.
6. Remove the artichokes, and if needed, scoop out the inner chokes (the fuzzy centers) when they are cool enough to handle. Cut in halves if they are large. Place a whole artichoke (or half) in a bowl and spoon additional broth around. Serve with a soup spoon, the sauce, and a bowl on the side to collect the leaves.