Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lemon Mint Artichokes

I've been very anxiously awaiting spring so I can have some new fruits and vegetables. I love winter squash and root vegetables, but they get old after awhile and the winter months always seem so long that I'm practically dying for something new when spring finally rolls around. So when I saw that it was the first week for artichokes this year, I bought some even though I had never cooked an artichoke in my life. Luckily, Gourmet magazine this month included a recipe on how to cook fresh artichokes for Passover.

Artichokes are hard work though what with all the cutting and peeling. This recipe takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours total (although apparently you can split it up if you wanted).

From Gourmet Magazine, April 2009

Difficulty: Hard. The artichokes take a lot of preparation. You also need a melon baller and peeler.
Eat Rating: Awesome. After all the work, I thought there could be no way they would be worth it. I was wrong. These things are pretty amazing. The right amount of sour lemon and sweet mint. All that being said, I probably wouldn't make them again, unless someone specially requested for Passover or something.

2 lemons, cut in half
8 large artichokes with long stems
3 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh or otherwise)
5 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 garlic cloves, minced

Squeeze the lemons into a small bowl of cold water. Set aside. You will use this to keep your artichokes from browning later on.

Cut off the top 1 inch of the artichoke (the pointy part), then pull off the leaves until you reach the pale yellow leaves. Discard leaves (LN: we kept the leaves and steamed them to eat later.) Cut the artichoke off about 1/2 inch from the stem. Scoop out the fuzzy part in the bowl of the artichoke with a melon baller. Trim the dark green parts with a vegetable peeler from the base and stem of the artichoke. Trim down the stem to the pale green inner core. Rub the cut artichoke with the lemon to prevent browning and then place in the bowl of lemon water.

Once all artichokes are trimmed, place lemon juice, water, 3 tbsp mint and garlic in a heavy pot that is large enough to fit all the artichokes in one layer. Simmer, then stand artichokes stem facing up in the pot. Cover with parchment or silicone steamer mat. (LN: At this point, I put the extra artichoke leaves in and let them steam as well) Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the base of artichoke is easily pierced with a knife. Remove artichoke stems and set aside.
Simmer remaining liquid about 20 minutes until it is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Whisk to emulsify then pour over the artichokes and sprinkle with remaining mint.

Serve at room temperature.

Lemon mint braised artichokes

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