BRAISED ARTICHOKES (STUFFED OR UNSTUFFED)

This recipe was inspired by one our lovely Torello Farm customers.  She was excited to see our plump, firm and tight artichokes - a sure sign of a freshness.  After a few practice runs and tweaks, here is my interpretation of her recipe instructions. 

Many recipes specify for preparation, to remove the outer ‘leaves’ (also referred to as petals) until the green tender section in the centre is revealed, known as the choke, which is the immature flower bud.  But, I find the ‘leaves’ are fleshy and plump around the base of the bulb and it is only necessary to remove a few of the outer tough ones.   After the braising, these outer leaves easily pull away.  To eat , drag the inside of each ‘leaf’ across the teeth to remove the tender fleshy part, discarding any tough remains.  The flesh becomes increasingly creamy and tender as the ‘leaves’ are removed moving closer to the centre.  

If the idea of stuffing the artichoke is not your thing, or if you’re looking for an introduction to cooking artichoke, try version two below.  

serves 4

4 firm large globe artichokes with stems

2 small green garlic (or 1 large), bulb and stem, chopped

½ cup loosely packed fresh breadcrumbs (50g)

50g pecorino, finely grated

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

finely grated zest of a lemon

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 bay leaf

freshly ground pepper

250ml extra virgin olive oil

250ml chicken stock or water

Cut the stem across base of the artichoke, so that the flower can sit flat.  Peel away the outside layer of tough petals.  Trim the tough tips by slicing across about 1 cm from top of petals.  Using a peeler, remove the outer fibrous layer along the stem (if you choose not to peel, the stem will be stringy after cooking. It is the core of the stem that is edible).  Chop stem into 1cm pieces. 

Place the artichoke flower bulb under running water and gently loosen each petal to open up.  Drain excess water.  Rub the top of artichoke with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling mixture.  Placed chopped stem, garlic, breadcrumbs, pecorino, parsley, thyme, lemon zest and salt in a food processor.  Blend until finely chopped.  Season with ground pepper.  Divide mixture into four.  

To stuff each artichoke, fill the breadcrumb mixture into cavities in between the petals, pressing gently.  Place the artichokes in a heavy based saucepan, large enough to fit snugly. Add the bay leaf.  Evenly pour over olive oil, then add stock or water.  Cover with a tight fitting lid.

Place saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and cook for an hour.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed.  For a crunchy crust on top, transfer saucepan to a 180°C oven for 10 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Drizzle over any remaining oil from the base of saucepan and scatter with fresh parsley.  Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.  

VERSION 2 (no stuffing required)

4 firm large globe artichokes with stems

2 small green garlic (or 1 large), bulb and stem, cut in quarters lengthways

3 sprigs of thyme 

3 sprigs parsley with stalk

peel from a lemon, pith removed

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground pepper

250ml extra virgin olive oil

250ml chicken stock or water

50g pecorino, finely grated

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Trim the artichoke stalk leaving about 3 cm from base of the flower.   Peel away the outer layer of tough petals.   Trim the tops by slicing across about 1 cm from tip of petals.  Using a peeler, remove the outer fibrous layer along length of the stem (if you choose not to peel, the stem will be a little stringy after cooking).  Cut the flower into quarters length ways.  Cut remaining stems into 8cm lengths.

Place the quartered artichokes and stems in a heavy based saucepan, large enough to fit snugly in a single layer. Add the bay leaf, lemon peel, parsley and thyme stalks.  Season with salt and pepper.  Evenly pour over olive oil, then add stock or water. Cover with a tight fitting lid.

Place saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook for an hour.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed. 

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Drizzle over any remaining oil from the base of saucepan and scatter with fresh parsley and pecorino.  Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.  

braised artichoke.jpeg
Mark Brancatisano