By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional
When I was growing up, I would look at all of the major lifestyle, food and style magazines and daydream about the day that I could live that life. I swore my first car would be a Porche, but ended up with a Jaguar, which was actually even better. I studied GQ like it was the bible and the second I was making enough money to have extra cash after bills, I started shopping at Outlet Malls and wearing designers like Ralph Lauren and Liz Claiborne. I swear, that by looking and acting as if I lived a certain lifestyle, people believed it to be true. It opened many doors for me because people made assumptions.
I also started exposing myself to gourmet and what I considered to be exotic foods. Things like Clams Casino, Caviar and Artichokes. For what ever reason, I could not understand why people would eat something that looked like a cactus to me. Today, it is one of my favorite foods and the kids beg me to make things with artichokes. This recipe and my Prosciutto and Artichoke Heart Flatbread Pizza are in their Top 20 favorites.
- 4 Fresh Artichokes
- 1 Medium Roasted Red, Bell Pepper, Chopped Medium
- 4 Shallots, Sliced Thin
- 1/2 Cup Black Olives, Sliced
- 1/2 Cup Green Olives, Sliced
- 1/2 Red/Brown Olives, Sliced
- 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 2 Lemons, Juiced and Zested
- 3 Tbs. Fresh Parsley, Chopped Fine
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped Fine
- 1 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Chicken Broth
- 1/2 Cup White Wine
- 3 Tbs. Butter, Unsalted
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
- 4 Dashes Red Wine Vinegar
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Steps For Preparing Your Artichokes
How To Clean and Prepare an Artichoke for Cooking
A. When you first start cleaning and preparing your artichoke, you want to cut the first inch or so off the top of the artichoke. This allows you to effectively peel off the outer layer of leaves.
B. After you have cut the top off the artichoke. Slowly peel off the outer layers of artichoke. Systematically go around the artichoke. If you try to peel all the leaves from a single point, then move one to the next spot, you will tear the heart of the artichoke and we want to keep that in tact.
C. Once you have peeled off the outer layers of leaves ( you will know when you need to stop when you get to the point where the leaves are a lighter color and are laying more tightly on top of each other), you want to take a large knife and cut about 1/2 inch off the top of the artichoke.
D. Then, once you have cut back the artichoke (you should be able to see a little bit of the purple leaves of the artichoke heart) you want you want to go around the artichoke cleaning it of all the darker leaves the are left until you have just the artichoke heart.
E. Now, you need to pair down the artichoke stem. Simply cut straight down, removing the darker green layer until just the medium green, inside layer of the stem is exposed. Make sure there are no bits of the darker leaves left.
F. Finally, you have a perfectly prepared artichoke heart. Depending on your preference, you want to cut it at least in half, starting by cutting downwards from the stem end. For this recipe you want to cut it into quarters for easier eating. So once you have cut it in half. Gently cut each half, in half again.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large sauce pan, add 1/2 cup of your olive oil and heat up over a medium-high heat. Once it has come up to temp, reduce heat to medium and add 1/2 of your chopped garlic. Cook until the garlic is a light brown.
- While your garlic is cooking, zest both of your lemons and set the zest aside.
- Once the garlic has turned a light brown and is cooked, add your white wine, chicken broth and the juice from your three lemons. Cooking Tip: Before you cut your lemons to juice them, with the palm of your hand, roll them firmly back and forth across your cutting board. This will slightly breakdown the walls between the lemon wedges and make it easier to juice.
- Cook your broth, wine, olive oil and lemon juice mixture and it comes to a low boil. Remove from the heat immediately.
- To a medium size casserole dish, add your broth mixture first, then lay out your artichoke quarters, inside part facing upwards, in a single layer.
- Sprinkle about 4 dashes of red wine vinegar across the tops of your artichoke quarters, then sprinkle with your freshly cracked, black peppercorns.
- Cover your casserole dish with aluminum foil and place on the center rack of your oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until tender.
- While your artichokes are braising in the oven. In a small sauce pan, melt your 3 tbs. of butter. As soon as it is melted, pour into a small mixing bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Once your butter has cooled down to room temperature, add your Panko bread crumbs, freshly chopped parsley (leaving aside a few pinches for garnishing), lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Mix together with a fork until well combined. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, add your remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, sliced olives, chopped roasted red bell peppers, remaining 2 cloves chopped garlic and sliced shallots. Over medium heat, cook just until contents of your sauce pan are hot. Immediately turn off the heat.
- When your artichokes are cooked through and tender, remove from oven. Take off the foil covering and discard.
- Sprinkle your bread crumb mixture across the artichokes. Do not cover with foil this time. Return to the oven, on the top rack this time, and cook for about 5 minutes or until your bread crumbs start to lightly brown. Remove from the oven and turn off the heat.
- To plate your artichokes, you will need a medium to large platter.
- Pour your olive salad onto your platter and spread evenly. With a pair of tongs, place your artichokes on top of your olive salad and sprinkle with the parsley you set to the side.
- Serve with your favorite fish or chicken dish for an optimum flavor experience and enjoy.