I intended to get this recipe out to you last Thursday but there’s nothing that can hinder good intentions like a sick kid.
Louisa was a pukey, pukey mess last week so instead of making artichokes we laid in my bed, napped, and read chapters of Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow. If you have elementary aged kids or just want to read a really fun page turner this book is just wonderful. The movie The Boxtrolls was based on the book and if you haven’t seen the movie either, then I highly, highly recommend. Both are really fun, imagination-bending stories. Sir Ben Kingsley as Snatcher might be better than his Gandhi performance, just putting that out there.
Anyhoo, it’s Monday and everyone is feeling less pukey enough to go to school so let’s talk artichokes!
Wait, hold up, actually let’s talk Tajín first. Tajín is a chili-lime seasoning sprinkled over cups of raw fruit and vegetables served on practically every street corner, market, and town square anywhere Latinos congregate. It is a magical combination of heat, sour, and sweet that turns the ordinary into extraordinary and I also suggest using it to rim your next margarita glass. Smashed with softened butter it makes a fantastic spread for fresh artichokes.
I don’t really believe in buying fresh artichokes simply to eat the heart—that’s what canned or frozen ones are for. They take a bit of work to transform into something edible so I like to actually eat as much of the vegetable as I can. Using the leaves as scoops is my preferred way of eating them. I like to dip each leaf into a savory butter and then scrape each little bit of meat off with my teeth as I go, savoring every last morsel. Here’s how you prep them for such leisurely eating.
First you want to cut off about an inch of the stem and an inch off the crown, this is most easily done with a serrated knife.
Then snap off the tough outer leaves with your fingers. These leaves don’t have anything edible to speak of and have sharp, pointy ends. You want to remove the leaves until you get to the inner ones that are pale green to almost yellow on the bottom. Also, the leaves will coat your hands with a bitter film making everything else you touch taste terrible, so make sure you wash your hands well after cleaning the artichokes.
Then you are going to cook them in what the French call a court bouillon or seasoned broth. This is basically water flavored with wine, aromatics, salt, herbs, spices, and lemon.
Weigh the artichokes down with a plate to keep them submerged. They will start to oxidize and turn brown the longer they are exposed to the air.
Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce the heat so it is very gently simmering. Cook the artichokes until you can easily slide a pairing knife through the base (where the stem meats the heart) about 20-30 minutes. Remove them to a plate with tongs and serve hot with the butter for a most sophisticated springtime treat.
Fresh spring artichokes simmered in a flavorful broth and served with a chili-lime compound butter made from the classic Mexican seasoning mix, Tajín.
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 2 teaspoons Tajín seasoning
- 4 large artichokes
- 1 lemon
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 5-6 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until chives and seasoning is evenly incorporated. Butter can be made up to a week in advance. Cover and refrigerate if you are making ahead, then bring to room temperature before serving. If using immediately leave out at room temperature.
- Cut off the top and bottom inch of each artichoke (this is sometimes easiest with a serrated knife). Snap off the tough outer leaves with the pointy, sharp tips, about 1/4 of the total leaves.
- Fill a large pot with about 6 cups water. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water then add the lemon halves.
- Add onion, wine, salt, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf and stir until salt is dissolved. Add artichokes and weigh them down with a plate.
- Place over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to keep it from boiling too vigorously and cook until a knife easily goes through the bottom of the artichokes, about 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from the cooking liquid and serve hot with the butter.
- To eat peel each leaf off the artichoke and spread with a little butter on the end that the leaf attached to the artichoke (the bottom of the leaf). Bite into the bottom scraping any meat and butter with your teeth. Discard the remaining leaf and get a new one. Once all the leaves are eaten you can scrape the pointy, hairy fibers out of the heart and throw them away then spread some butter on the heart and enjoy. You can eat the stem too!