These braised artichokes with garlic and thyme are slowly braised in olive oil until tender and infused with garlicky goodness. It’s a stunning and impressive springtime side dish.
LC A Quandary Over What To Quaff Note
Artichokes, known as carciofi (car-choe-fee) in Italian, are indeed in profusion in Rome come spring and then again come early autumn. In the States, artichokes have a long, lovely season between those two peak Italian times. Yet no matter when you indulge in them, they can be a little tricky to team with wine. This misbehavior can be attributed to the presence of a pesky organic acid known as cynarin, which plays charades with your perception of taste and makes pretty much everything taste strangely sweet for a short while. Sorta crazy, eh? It’s a fluke that’s earned artichokes the term “wine sinners,” though that’s not to say you need to do penance and shun wine with your carciofi. Nooooo. You just need to choose it a little more carefully than usual. A dry white typically does the trick, whether a Sauvignon blanc, a Chenin blanc, or a Vouvray. If you’d like to stick with something Italian, there’s the Villa Simone Frascati ($12) suggested by the editors of Gourmet. In their words, it’s “the classic white of the Lazio region that surrounds Rome–light, thirst-quenching, and aromatic.” Whatever you select, let us know what you try–and what you think. Ciao.
Artichokes with Garlic and Thyme
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 1 H
- Serves 6
Special Equipment: 6- to 8-quart heavy pot wide enough to hold artichokes in a single layer (about 11 inches in diameter)
Fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze the lemon halves into the bowl.
Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut off and discard the top inch of the artichoke. Using your fingertips, gently pull or pry open the leaves to reveal the center of the artichoke. Using a spoon (or a spoon-like implement such as a melon baller or a pointy-tipped grapefruit spoon), scoop out any sharp leaves and the fuzzy choke from inside the artichoke. You’re looking, beneath all those pointy tips and fuzz, for what’s called the artichoke heart. If the stem of the artichoke is still attached, use a knife to trim it. Place the artichoke in the bowl of lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. (The trimmed artichokes can be kept chilled in lemon water for up to 8 hours.)
Remove the artichokes from the water. Push 3 parsley sprigs into the center of each. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in pot over medium heat until it shimmers, then carefully add the artichokes, thyme sprigs, garlic, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper. Cover the pot and braise the artichokes, turning occasionally, until they’re browned in spots and the base of each artichoke–where the stem meets the leaves–is tender when pierced with a knife, about 35 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the artichokes, thyme, and garlic to a platter. Add the remaining 3/4 cup water to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, for 1 minute. Pour the deglazed pan juices (they will be dark) into a small bowl and stir in the extra-virgin olive oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Squeeze the pulp from 2 of the garlic cloves into the juices and mash them into the sauce using the tines of a fork.
Divide the artichokes and, if desired, the remaining garlic cloves among 6 plates and drizzle with the sauce. The garlic cloves can be peeled and spread on crusty bread.
Recipe Testers' Tips
As I was eating these artichokes last night I started ticking off friends in my mind who I should be sharing this meal with. I was imagining us sitting at the table with a bottle of Prosecco, roasted chicken wings, and these artichokes. We’re eating everything with our hands, unabashedly scraping artichoke leaves with our teeth and eyeing the last few cloves of the braised garlic. I haven’t had much success preparing artichokes in any other way besides the old Italian–American standby—stuffed with breadcrumbs and steamed—that is, until I prepared these little babies. This recipe is insanely good and I’m going to make artichokes in this way forevermore. I needed to add water throughout the cooking process. In the end, I added an additional 3/4 cup of water in 1/4-cup intervals when the pot threatened to run dry and scorch. Don’t add the additional water up front, as you’ll never deeply brown your garlic or artichokes and those crispy brown bits are treasures. Add a little salt into the heart cavity with the parsley. I also used baby artichokes, which surprisingly took the same amount of time to cook, yet I didn’t have to scoop out the choke during prep. Enjoy—this recipe is a true crowd-pleaser. I can’t wait to serve these to friends.
I must say I love artichokes simply steamed and then eaten with melted butter and lemon juice, but this recipe changed my mind. It still keeps the true flavors of the artichokes intact yet brings them to a higher dimension. The recipe is very easy to follow and the preparation is pretty fast. We all absolutely loved it and the juices were perfect for eating with some bread.
Never. I’ll never steam artichokes again after making this delicious slow braise instead. When done, no dipping sauce is needed; this recipe both covers a better way to cook the artichokes and then efficiently uses the cooking juices as the base for the sauce. This would make a lovely appetizer or first course, especially if those nice soft cloves of garlic were presented with crusty bread alongside the braised artichokes. A few notes and pointers: I couldn't locate medium-sized artichokes that were a 1/2 pound each. The closest I could find were 1/3 pound each, so I scaled down appropriately for this change and everything worked just fine. I like that this Italian recipe specifies olive oil for the cooking and extra-virgin olive oil for the sauce. Could you use just one or the other? Absolutely, yes, but this is the correct use for each. I was concerned I had scooped out too much of the inside of the artichoke, as I scooped quite a bit, but it ended up being just right. I did use a grapefruit spoon, as opposed to a melon baller or a regular spoon. It scooped just fine, but my grapefruit spoon is now misshapen. When the instructions speak of trimming the stem, I believe it meant peel, which is what made sense to me at that point and is what I did. I loved the fact that it made a vegetarian pan sauce, and it was just the perfect amount! This is the third artichoke recipe in a row that I’ve tested here: the first was the Rigatoni with Artichokes, Garlic, and Olives Recipe and the second was for fried artichokes. I’d make all three again, each suitable for different meals or situations and all definitely worthy endeavors.
A simple and rustic way to cook artichokes, resulting in a tender heart with outer leaves perfect for dipping. I found it easiest to cut the artichokes down the middle lengthwise and scoop out the fuzzy inedible part. Although I couldn’t stuff each one with the parsley stems, I still added herbs to the dish. The sauce turned out beautifully and instead of pouring it over the artichokes, I used it as a dipping sauce. This clean preparation allows this spring ingredient to shine at its best.