After finally watching the Gourmet video on how to properly trim an artichoke, and staring at a bagful of beautiful, fresh artichokes from the Monterrey Farmers' Market, I decided to braise some for dinner. The only hitch: I didn't have any wine I was willing to open just to braise these babies (especially since I'd never done it before and wasn't sure it would work!). I decided to try orange juice because I thought the sweetness would complement the earthiness of the artichokes, and I figure, what the hell? The whole bag cost only a dollar! Why not experiment? It turned out delicious and really simple. Watch the prep video here: http://www.gourmet.com... —EmilyMarlow
artichokes, properly trimmed
large cloves of garlic, smashed and thinly sliced
fresh orange juice
lemongrass, washed and chopped into large inch-long sections
Put cold water in a large bowl. Splash in a large pour of apple cider vinegar. This solution is to put the artichokes in after they have been trimmed but before they have begun to braise, to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown.
Trim the artichokes. Remove all the bottom leaves until you reveal light green leaves. With a pairing knife, cut off the tip of the stem, then carefully clean away the fibrous outer layer to expose the lighter core. Now clean away the excess dark green leaves left at the base, being careful not to get too much of the good meat. Submerge in the water solution. Now cut off the upper two thirds of the artichokes (the tops of the leaves are not edible), revealing the chokes above the heart. With a spoon, clear away the thin inner leaves and the hairy chokes until the heart is clean. Place cleaned choke in the water solution. Repeat on the other artichokes.
Place a deep skillet that has a tight fitting lid on medium heat. Add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the garlic. Toast on medium until just beginning to brown and then lower heat. Add one thyme sprig.
Dry off artichokes (reserving the vinegar liquid) and carefully place them in skillet, face down. (If they are wet the oil will spit.) Quickly add the orange juice and other thyme sprig. Cook for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, add a handful of lemongrass pieces and a cup of the vinegar liquid. Turn the artichokes on their sides (so the lid of your pan will fit snugly on top) and close the lid. Cook for half an hour.
Remove the lid and carefully turn the artichokes onto their other sides. Replace the lid and cook for 10 more minutes.
Remove the lid and check for doneness by removing an outer leaf and tasting it. If it is soft and easy to eat, the artichokes are done.
Remove the lemongrass bits before serving, as they may be tough. Serve artichokes over rice or on their own with some braising liquid. You can reserve the braising liquid as a sauce for fish or meats. The artichokes will reheat nicely, so if you'd like to make a protein with the sauce, set the chokes aside, cook the protein in their liquid and serve altogether.