While we lived in California, we developed a taste for artichokes. Whoever decided the giant thistle buds could be eaten must have been really hungry and other edible items must have been really scarce. We have posted few artichoke dishes including baby artichokes. In any case, it is very unusual to see good fresh artichokes in D.C. area and baby artichokes are rarer. My wife found a package of baby artichokes from California at Whole Foods on one of our visits there. This was a week after getting marinated baby artichoke hearts from the bulk self-serve counter at the same store which were essentially not edible. They were inedible because the fibrous inner petals were not adequately removed and when we bit into them it was like getting poked in the mouth with a pin. It was worse than fish bones. We ended up throwing out the entire batch. So, I was given the challenge to make better baby artichokes. Again, I proposed deep fried baby artichoke (Roman Jewish style) but as before, my wife declined. I was to recreate baby artichokes marinated in olive oil, which we usually get commercially in a jar. Not being one to shy away from a challenge, after looking through a few recipes on line, this is what I came up with.
I served this as a small appetizer which goes with wine. I added oil cured black olives.
The below is a package of baby artichokes we got. It was not the best and some are too small and some had the inner petals all discolored to black but many were still good.
For marinade (see #1 below):
4tbs olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp Kosher salt and 1/4 fresh ground black pepper
1 package (2lb) of baby artichokes (#2);
For preparing baby artichokes. (80% will be wasted through the preparation).
1. Wash the surface of the artichokes under running water with a brush.
2. Remove hard green outer petals until tender pale yellow inner petals appear. Cut off the stem and top 1/3 and peel off the bottom (where green outer petals were attached) and cut in half. (You need to be very aggressive in removing any green or fibrous petals, otherwise no matter how long you cook, it remains fibrous. The baby artichokes of this size have not yet developed the chokes, so you need not to worry about them).
3. Immediately place the prepared baby artichokes in the marinade and coat the surface to prevent discoloration (#3).
4. Place the marinade and artichokes in a frying pan with the cut side down (#4) with a lid.
5. As the marinade evaporates, the cut surface browns, turn them over (#5) and continue to cook.
6. If the liquid evaporate too much, add a few tablespoonfuls of water and keep braising. You may have to add water few more time or until the bottom is soft and throughly cooked and sauce forms (#6).
7. Taste and if needed season with more Kosher salt and black pepper.
When I tasted it warm, I thought it was too sour from the lemon juice. But the next day after being kept in the refrigerator, it had mellowed out and was perfect. This was infinitely better than store bought or even the ones in a jar. After eating these it will be hard to go back to the other kind. They went beautifully with red wine. We used to make pizza using marinated baby artichokes. I have to make one with this.