Don’t choke on making artichokes. It’s EASY.

Main Course / August 1, 2013

Braised Artichokes with Butter and Parmesan

So many of my friends and family lately have mentioned that they steer away from making artichokes because it seems so formidable. You can understand why, they’re spiny, heavy and really, really firm when you buy them. It’s like a green pine cone with attitude. Read on to see how easy and fool proof it can be to serve.

FOLLOW THIS RECIPE: First, find firm chokes with the leaves mostly closed and green. Visually you can see if it looks like it’s seen better days. Just pick the one that looks pretty to you.
Wash and cut off the stem right to the base, and about 1 to 1 1/2 inches down from the top, cutting off the upper, smaller and mostly tight leaves. Fill a large pot about 3/4 full of water. Add 1/2 C vermouth, 3 T olive oil, and a little salt. When the water is a rolling boil, place the artichokes in the water.

Now, don’t panic when you try and push them under the water. They will float so keeping them submerged won’t be possible. Instead, just keep tongs around to kind of turn them over so that at least one side is under the water. Turn every 10 minutes or so. Boil on a low rolling boil, at about medium heat, (just enough to keep the bubbles up and intentional,) for 40-45 minutes. Chokes are done when you pull one of the bottom leaves off and it simply gives easily and comes right out.

Take out of the water and invert to drain. Place on a plate and serve with good old mayo, drawn butter and grated fresh parmiggiano reggiano. I served it with a delicious Yalumba Viogner which brought out the sweetness of the choke and was great with the top notes of savory butter and green ymminess!

The prize is the lovely heart. which is a rush of earthy, tender and amazing softness. When you get to the bottom of all those leaves simply scrape out what looks a little like fur to reveal the heart. (Eat the leaves by inverting the leaf in your mouth and closing your bottom teeth over the meat of the leaf and pull. the soft part with remain in your mouth along with that glistening slather of butter, mayo and cheese that went in with it!!)

Orzo, Tomato, Bacon and Artichokes with a Brown Butter Parmesan Cream Sauce

Serves 2-3

The nuttiness of the browned butter roux gives this creamy pasta dish a deeper flavor profile, offsetting the saltiness of the bacon and artichokes.


1/3 lb thick cut bacon or about 4 slices (I cook all of the bacon and then keep the unused strips in the fridge for future recipes!)
1 C dry orzo pasta
1½ C drained quartered artichoke hearts
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 C heavy cream
Milk as needed
3 T butter
1 T flour
1 C grated parmesan cheese
Dash dried oregano
Salt and pepper


  • Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Now,cook bacon in a large, nonstick saute pan, until crisp but not over done. Remove and drain. Discard all but 1 T fat.
  • In a large saucepan, melt 3 T butter on medium heat and watch closely until it begins to brown. It takes a non-second to go from perfect to yuck, so watch carefully. My method is to keep the heat at medium high, and then pull the pan off the heat as you watch it, so you can see the color of the butter at stop of the foaming that begins when it heats, which obscures your view.When it’s brown, take off heat. Add the flour and whisk until incorporated,return to heat and let it bubble for a minute, remove again and continue to whisk. Do this for about 30 seconds. Now add the C of cream and whisk until thick. As it gets thick, add milk to thin. When the right consistency, which is creamy but not too custardy, remove from heat, add a bit of salt and pepper,stir in all but a few pinches of cheese (which you will use to garnish), stir until melted,and set aside.
  • Returning to the saute pan with the bacon drippings, reheat and add the tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Saute until tomatoes start to soften.Add the cheese sauce to the tomato and artichoke mixture.(I didn’t add all of it,only about 1 C or so. You will have to eye-ball on this because the amount of sauce is dependent upon how much milk you used to thin it.)While the artichokes and tomatoes were sauteing,you should be cooking the orzo, which only takes about 4-5 minutes to soften. When the pasta is cooked, drain it,and add it as well to the saucepan. Heat all, serve in bowls with a sprig of fresh parsley.

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