Steam fried baby artichokes with lemon-chive aioli
One of the local organic farms here grow lovely baby artichokes and whenever I go there I clean up their daily harvest of these little gems. Today I thought I’d cook them to a golden crispiness in olive oil, although I forgot about grilling them, that would have been good as well. So many options, so little time.
Trimming a full grown artichoke is a bit of an undertaking but well worth it. The little ones though are much easier as you can practically eat the whole thing. The thorny heart is not quite formed and if you cut them in half, you just have to peel back the outer leaves and you are done.
I saw a recipe on Martha Stewart that called for cooking the artichokes in olive oil and water, letting the water evaporate while cooking the artichokes and then they are fried in the remaining oil. I tried it and it worked beautifully so here is how I did it, recipe adjusted to my kitchen.
1 lemon, cut in 4 wedges
12 baby artichokes
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
A large pinch of coarse salt
6 thyme sprigs
3 whole garlic cloves, crushed with the side of the knife
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice from half a lemon
A handful chopped chives
Fill a medium bowl with water, squeeze into it 3 of the lemon wedges and drop in the squeezed wedges.
Work with one arti at a time. Cut each in half and immediately rub the remaining lemon wedge over the cut surface.
Peel back and break off the outer dark leaves until you reach the white ones underneath.
Trim the bottom off any dark parts and cut off the thorny top, about 1/3 of the way down. Drop into the lemon water.
Repeat with the remaining artichokes. If your artis are a little larger check if the hairy heart in the center formed. If it’s there, remove it with the tip of your knife.
Heat up the olive oil and water in a Le Creuset pot or another deep pot (helps keep the splatter from messing your stove).
Drain the artichokes and add to the pot. together with the salt.
Cook over medium-high heat stirring occasionally until the water evaporates, about 8 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium, add the thyme springs and garlic and cook until the artis are golden and crisp, about 10 minutes, turning them over now and then.
Remove from the oil to a serving dish and serve warm or at room temperature with lemon aioli.
Here is a cheater’s version: combine 1 cup good quality mayo with juice of 1/2 a lemon, zest from 1 lemon and a bunch of chopped chives. the fried thyme sprigs are also delicious, serve them with the artis.
Or, make your own homemade aioli
You may also like this recipe: Artichoke fritters with sorrel aioli