Last week, my husband took my knives to a local sharpener and had them professional sharpened for me. They needed it. I love my knives, but I am not as good about taking care of them as I should be. After a sharpening, I will carefully hone them for a few months and then slide into my bad habits again. Eventually, I’ll be chopping an onion and have to leave the room blinded by tears, and I’ll be so mad at myself for letting my knives get that dull that I will do something about it. Then the cycle starts all over.
So… I came home to freshly sharpened blades. This inspired me to take on a kitchen challenge that I had been building up to – whole artichokes.
I love artichoke hearts, but I had never prepped, nor eaten, the rest of the artichoke. Fortunately, I live in the magical age of the internet, and I simply googled, “cooking a whole artichoke,” which lead me to the delightful blog, Pinch My Salt. I followed her recipe pretty closely.
First, I lopped off the top third of the artichokes. Then I cut the stems from the bottom so that they would sit flat on the pan.
Then, I drizzled about a tablespoon of olive oil onto aluminum foil and set one of the artichokes on the oil. I gently pried the leaves open and stuffed a couple of garlic cloves down into the leaves.
Here, I varied just slightly from the recipe on hand. Traditionally, artichokes are served with mayo, and I liked the idea of adding a little creaminess. Rather than drizzling olive oil and lemon separately, I combined the two first and emulsified the mixture.
Emulsification is a chemical reaction that combines two liquids that would normally remain separate. There are several was to create an emulsion, depending on the liquids involved and the time on hand. Oil and an acid can usually be combined through brisk whisking. The end result is a mixture that is more than the sum of its parts. In this case, a thick, creamy lemon-y mixture. (BTW, this is the same process you use to make a vinaigrette.)
I added salt and fresh cracked pepper, wrapped up the aluminum foil, and cooked in a pre-heated, 425 degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes.
My husband and I then ate them in the traditional way, by pulling the leaves off one by one and using our teeth to scrape the meat into our mouths. We followed the directions on the other blog for finding, cleaning, and eating the heart, and it was DELICIOUS.
Our Friday night tradition is for me to cook something fairly elaborate and then for us to eat late in the evening. The problem is, that by the time we eat, both of us are really, really hungry. As a result, I have been trying to get better about providing a little “first course” earlier in the evening. These artichokes were an excellent first course.
While the artichokes cooled, I pre-heated the oven to a slightly higher temperature and popped my whole roasted chicken into it. We ate the artichokes while the chicken cooked, and I prepped a quick style mushroom dish while the chicken cooled.
Since I was in a festive mood, we paired the meal with California sparkling wine.