Braised Artichokes and Coq au Vin

Braised Artichokes and Coq au Vin

I LOVE artichokes, I can't get enough of them! I eat them 3-4 times a week, and have for at least the last few years.   And every time, I've steamed them in my pressure cooker. It's fast, efficient, and reliable.  For a dipping sauce, I nearly always have melted butter and mayo. Sometimes I mix things up, and add labneh instead of mayo, sometimes a squeeze of lemon, sometimes crumbled blue cheese.  Every once in a while, I use olive oil for the dip, with italian seasonings.  Finally, after all this time, I decided to branch out a little, and try something different. I don't mind the messy, hands on experience of eating artichokes, because the payoff is so worth it to me.   I DO mind stripping raw artichokes down to just the heart, that just seems too wasteful to me. And so, I settled on braising the artichokes in a flavorful liquid, and would only trim the artis, and not decimate them.

I cut the tops off the artichokes, and cut off the thorny ends of the leaves with scissors.  I halved the artis lengthwise, and then halved the halves. The chokes are easy to scrape out with a pairing knife, which is one thing less to deal with at the table.  While I prepped the artis, I heated olive oil in a large, heavy pan.  I put the artis in the oil, and browned the cut sides lightly, turning every few minutes. Then I deglazed the pan with white wine, then added chicken stock.  I also added fresh garlic, thyme, leeks, and shallots.  After putting a lid on, I turned the heat down and let it simmer while I finished off the coq au vin I'd started just before moving on to the artis.  When both dishes were done, I plated the arti quarters in a shallow bowl, and topped them with a bit of butter, and a final dash of sea salt.

To eat them, you still have to pull the leaves off, and scrape the meat out with your teeth; and they are a bit messier because they covered in the braising liquid, but holy COW the flavor is amazing!! I ended up eating 4 quarters, and the globes are the supersized ones that are in the markets this time of  year.  Not having to deal with the choke while eating them was fantastic. The heart was undeniably the best part; it really soaks up so much of the braising liquid, so it is flavored all the way through. Definitely worth the extra preparation time!  I will try it again next time, except I'll experiment with both the braising liquid and the herbs - I think next time I'll use a high stock to wine ratio, and leave out the leeks and shallots - I don't know that they added anything to the mix. I will also try a squeeze of fresh lemon  juice, I think that will work to cut the bitterness that seems to be a bit more prevalent in the autumn artis.  And I'll add a bit more butter, because the fat just gives the artichokes that velvety mouth feel that is so magical. I am SO glad I tried cooking them this way!

The Coq au Vin is straight from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I used a French Bordeaux, and after cooking the chicken, reduced the sauce down and thickened it with a buerre manie as stated in the recipe.  (Sometimes I am lazy and don't add a thickener, or will use a yolk to thicken... but I really like the buerre manie with this particular sauce.)

 It was an unintentionally quintessential french meal, and SO very happy. <3

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