Tender artichoke quarters braised in white vermouth to enhance their natural sweetness. Inspired by an Elizabeth David's recipe included in her book 'Italian Food'.
*A quick note on buying artichokes: look for those with very tight leaves, and with a firm texture from the base all the way through. It's always a good thing when they come with a longer stem and the leaves – it's a sign of freshness. —Valeria
Using a small serrated knife, halve the lemon and squeeze some juice on the blade.
To clean the artichokes, remove the outer leaves until you find those which are pale green and light purple.
Trim the stalk 3 cm from the base and peel it to reveal the white part, plus any remaining bit of the outer leaves still attached to the base.
Finally, trim the ends at about 1.5 cm from the top. Cut the artichokes in half to remove the choke, then cut into quarters. If you are working with particularly small violet artichokes, you might want to leave them cut in half.
At every passage, rub the cut parts of the artichokes with lemon to prevent discolouration.
Heat the oil in a large skillet, and once hot, add the artichoke quarters. Fry for two minutes over medium heat, stirring often.
Pour in the vermouth and allow to evaporate. Finally, add the water, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid.
Allow the artichokes to braise for about twenty minutes, then remove the lid, turn up the heat and let the liquid reduce until only the oil remains and you have a sticky light brown sauce at the bottom of the pan.
Season with a generous pinch of salt and a couple of turns of the pepper grinder. Serve with the roughly torn mint leaves.