Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Artichokes are a beautiful delicacy that I wish more people could taste in this fashion. I like them braised and full of flavor in each fibre. You know... the kind of flavor that'll make your clients shamelessly lick their fingers, plates and utensils to make sure they get every last drop of artichoke goodness. It's where the braising liquid and your artichoke become one.
On a healthy note, artichokes are great for the liver, gall bladder, bladder, blood and the pancreas, amongst other things. It boasts nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, fibre, potassium, iron along with other trace elements and health supporting enzymes. So not only are they tasty, they're health promoting too.
Here's how I came to love artichokes. A few years ago, before one of my catering gigs, I had a client who had a taste for some artichokes. Now at the time, I didn't care for them, but I had a good idea for what they liked. I asked them to give me a little creative license to design something new around the baby artichokes and they graciously accepted my offer. By the time I was finished with them, I was in love. I've loved artichokes ever since.
Braised Artichokes Recipe
1 large covered skillet
1 medium cutting board
1 chef's knife
1 wooden spatula or tongs
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion [diced]
1 fist of garlic [crushed]
2 cups heirloom cherry sized tomatoes [multi-colored makes a beautiful presentation]
1 cup water [boiling hot]
12 - 18 baby artichokes [washed and trimmed]
1 8" sprig of fresh rosemary
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp ground chipotle powder
sea salt [to taste]
1/2 cup fresh cilantro [chopped]
Step 1. Heat your skillet [on high heat] and pour your oil and add you onions and salt. Caramelize your onions.
Step 2. Add your crushed garlic cloves, saute for 2 minutes, stirring, then add your tomatoes and continue to saute until they begin to burst. Gently press out tomato juice [leaving about half of the juice in the tomatoes].
Step 3. Stir in your artichokes and water and herbs [except for the cilantro], cover and reduce heat to a medium and slowly simmer.
Step 4. Once the baby artichokes have heated through and tenderized add cilantro and make any necessary flavor adjustments necessary. Return cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.
You're done! This goes very well with pasta, kasha, rice, on the side of a nice tender meatloaf, with a nice bagel to soak up that tasty gravy... you decide how you want to present it to your clients. The beautiful thing about this is that it stores well, reheats well, is simple to prepare and has loads of healthful benefits. Another thing I love about this and the rest of these recipes, is the versatility. You can easily convert this into a meat lover's feast by adding some shredded chicken, beef, pulled pork or any number of fish or shellfish options, if that's what your into. The skies the limit. For a little more range on this, you can convert it into a nice baby artichoke soup by adding a few cups of broth to it.
All in all, when you make this dish for your clients, you'll win on many levels.
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing with you these tasty, healthy recipes. Until next time...