This recipe is dedicated to a very unique friend, Denise. I will forever associate her with artichokes -- especially those of the braised kind. I have known Denise for about ten years now, connecting with her during a time when nutrient dense, health enhancing food was incredibly important for her family. Throughout the years we have kept in touch, she even 'adopted' a Staub cast-iron pot of mine for several years while I was traveling and living abroad. Denise continued the tradition of braised artichokes during all those years I was unable to. Through a turn of events over the last month, the pot landed back in my kitchen after seven years. I have to say, this first batch of braised artichokes cooked in the Staub were amazing -- that pot is pretty much fool-proof and a joy to use. Thoughts of Denise and her family were a constant companion while preparing this delicious vegetable -- I just wished we lived closer!
On a nutrition note, artichokes are a terrific food for the liver -- helping to cleanse the organ and keeping it healthy by encouraging bile flow. They are also high in antioxidants and fiber. Studies show that artichoke leaf extract is an anti-tumor tonic for breast and prostate cancer along with leukemia. Simply eating the the meat of the leaves and the artichoke heart will provide these health benefits too.
As for the artichokes themselves, this recipe can be prepped in no time flat -- it is mainly the slow cooking that requires a bit of patience. But the wait is worth it. Always choose artichokes with tight leaves and little or no purple blemishes. The cut end of the stalk is a good indicator or freshness -- light green is best. As always, choose organic for health and flavor.
Yield: 2 servings/4 quarters each
2 large globe artichokes
Juice of one lemon
1 cup vegetable broth, freshly made if possible
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
4 leaves fresh sage, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fill a large bowl with ice water and half the lemon juice. Set aside. With a butter knife, pry the small leaves off the bottom of the artichoke -- only those that are inedible without meat. Next, using a sharp chef knife, slice the top inch off the artichoke as well as the stem where it joins at the base of the globe. Clip each leaf with kitchen shears, about 1/2 inch down -- just enough to remove the sharp point. Now quarter the artichoke lengthwise. Take a small pairing knife and remove the white thistle material from each quarter, making sure to leave the heart-meat intact. As soon as the quarter is primed, place in ice-water to prevent browning.
While the artichoke quarters are soaking, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sage. Sauté until fragrant, about one minute. Drain artichokes and add to pot along with vegetable broth, white wine and remaining lemon juice. Toss artichokes well and cover. Cook for one hour, turning artichokes occasionally to infuse with seasoned cooking liquid. Prick with fork to test for doneness -- artichokes should be tender throughout. Enjoy with abandon.
"Eating an artichoke is like getting to know someone really well"