Okey Dokey, Artichokey: Lemon Braised

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April 9, 2013 by jenniebean10

GUYS GUYS GUYS! I’m flipping out! First off, I’m about to disappear for a hot second for some crazy travel: a four day Paris>Russia>Amsterdam blitz with Ben beginning Thursday night, several days in Seattle for the SRCD conference, and then home to Detroit for my uncle’s wedding. I might die from exhaustion or excitement or both. Second, it was 78° (!!!!!) in Gettysburg today. I rushed home after work so I could grab my bike and go for a ride. There were some ominous dark clouds looming overhead, but I was able to avoid any rain. Now that the days are longer, I made it back well before sunset. Guess that just means I have to take longer rides!

artichokes, face down...

When it’s time to travel, it’s also time to clean out the fridge. Among other things, I had 2 artichokes, a half pound of mushrooms, and still yet a pound of kale to eat before Thursday. VEGGIE FEAST! I found Smitten Kitchen’s recipe a week ago for artichokes braised in lemon and olive oil and was inspired, but I also liked Mark Bittman’s method of removing the fuzzy choke from the thistle before braising, plus…cutting the artichoke his way seemed slightly less complicated than Deb’s. Thus, a hybrid was born. Now that I think about it, the process was kind of involved, but maybe that’s just because I was doing a bunch of other crap while trying to make dinner. Let me remember how I did this…

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Artichokes Braised in Lemon and Butter

2 artichokes, with the stems left on
2 T. butter
1 lemon
2 small carrots, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
coriander
marjoram or fennel
fresh ground pepper
sea salt
a large bowl of water

Start by washing your lemon. If you buy conventional, scrub off the wax on the peel as best you can, because you’re going to use the zest. Slice it in half and place it in your bowl of water, squeezing some of the juice out of it.

Check out Mark Bittman’s instructions and video for cutting and de-choking the artichokes (I couldn’t take pictures because my phone was updating while I was making dinner). If there are long stems on your artichokes, you should leave them on. Snap off the outermost and toughest leaves, right where the base of the artichoke meets the stem. Use a paring knife to peel the stem. Slice the artichoke in half, grab a spoon, and scoop out the fuzzy part just above the heart. It’s dry and inedible – throw it out!

Grab a heavy pot that’s large and deep enough to fit your artichokes in one layer – cut a knob of butter into it and place it on the stove at medium heat. Slice up your shallots, carrots, and garlic. Once the butter is melted, sauté the carrots, shallots, and garlic with the coriander and marjoram for approximately 3 minutes. **I forgot this step, but you may want to brown the artichokes halves before braising them – place them face down in the hot butter and let them get nice and brown before the next steps.**

Add lemon water to the pot (my water came up a little more than halfway up the artichoke halves), take your lemon halves out of the bowl, and zest them over the contents of the pot. Get a sieve, and squeeze the juice out of the lemons into the sieve and over the pot. Shake some salt and grind some pepper overtop, cover, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes, turning the artichokes halfway through. When the artichokes are tender, remove them from the braising liquid. At this point, if you wish, you can reduce the braising liquid and use it as a sauce.

Make it a full meal: while my artichokes were simmering in the braising liquid, I boiled some orzo in the remainder of my lemon water, and then sliced and browned some mushrooms and garlic to have with the artichokes. Once I put it all together, I grated a little parmesan and ground some lemon pepper on top to finish it off.

Since Smitten Kitchen’s recipe uses originally calls for 8 artichokes and I only used 2, my sauce tasted quite lemony. I liked it, but it might not be your taste, in which case you should probably only zest and squeeze half of the lemon juice into the pot. Bittman suggests adding white wine to the braising liquid, and adding more butter to the reduced liquid/sauce. I’m sure that any of these options would be delicious. If I were making this dish for friends and we were going to drink the rest of the wine, I would definitely go with that modification. Realistically, I do not see myself finishing a bottle of wine this week. Gotta save room for vodka in Russia!

I find myself very busy and stressed out these days. That may be due to the fact that I’m mainly busy doing things I don’t have time for, including but not limited to writing this blog post. I hope you enjoyed it, though! I swear I’m going to try making those bagels soon… But no promises on new blog posts in the next month.

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