We make and use these braised chokes all spring and summer – on sandwiches, in salads and vegetable sautées, and, puréed, in pasta fillings. It sounds complex, but great results are really easy, once you get the hang of it. You can prepare and braise larger artichokes in the same way, but you’ll need to scoop the choke out of the center before or after cooking, as it will be too fibrous to eat.
12 baby artichokes
2 T extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
1 large shallot, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
4 cloves garlic, sliced into 1/8-inch coins
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 C dry white wine
2 T salt
Water, as needed to cover
1 sheet parchment paper
Fill a bowl with 1quart cold water and the juice of the lemon. Working with one artichoke at a time, snap off the outer leaves in a concentric circle until you expose the yellow/green inner leaves (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Dip the artichoke in lemon water to prevent browning. Use a sharp paring knife to trim away the dark green outer skin from the bottom and stem of each artichoke. Finally, cut the blossom end off where the light green leaves begin to turn dark, about 1 1/2 inches from the stem. Immerse the artichoke in the lemon water until ready to cook, and repeat with the remaining artichokes.
Heat a six-quart pot over a medium burner. Add the two tablespoons olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the sliced shallot and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until translucent and sweet, about four minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme and wine, and bring the pot to a simmer. Drain the artichokes and transfer to the pot. Add the salt, and just enough water to cover. Cut a disk out of parchment paper to cover the surface, and lay it carefully into the pot. Bring the pot back to a simmer, and cook the artichokes for eight to twelve minutes, or until the heart of the artichokes are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.
Drain the artichokes, and allow them to cool on a tray or plate. Pack them loosely into a non-reactive container, and immerse them completely in extra virgin olive oil. Keep the container refrigerated for up to one week.