During these warm days I begin to think about what we will soon find at the farm stands. A vegetable that seems to intimidate a lot of people, even the most avid cooks, is the artichoke. I have few recollections of artichokes during my Midwestern childhood, but recall them always prepared the same way. Stuffed with breadcrumbs and Parmesan or in a dip. It was during my travels that I discovered the versatility of artichokes. Whether atop pizzas on the street in Sicily or in little bundles, fried and wrapped in newspaper at a market or dressed in vinaigrette at tapas bars, they were all delicious.
April is the time of year to celebrate the arrival of this prickly vegetable packed with vitamin C and fiber and low in calories. One of my favorite preparations for artichoke is the easiest — puréed into a simple bisque with stock. Top it off with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and spring onions, along with some crunchy crostini on the side. Please look for this recipe in the Spring 2012 issue of Wine Press Magazine.
What to drink with artichokes? It is very important to select your beverage carefully. Choose a pale Ale or some Bedell Cellars Rosé to accompany this meal. Most wine is difficult to pair with artichoke, as it alters the taste, making it sweet.
1½ cups of prepared/blanched artichoke hearts (about 10 small hearts)
3 cups of Seasoned Fork “Roast Chicken Stock” or our North Fork Garden stock Short of time? Try an organic store bought brand.
½ cup of caramelized chopped shallots
⅛ cup of dry sherry
¼ cup of cream or half and half (optional if lactose intolerant)
*At Cuvée, we only add cream to the soups upon serving. We do not make them with cream, except for our New England-style clam chowder.
Peel and core your artichokes to use just the hearts and blanch them for about 4 minutes, set aside.
In a large saucepan chop and sauté the shallots until slightly brown, then add the artichoke hearts and sauté until slightly browned and set aside.
Assemble a puréeing station. Have a large pot and a ladle ready to purée the artichoke, shallots and stock in batches.
If too thick, add a bit more stock; if too thin, add another artichoke heart. If you don’t have any more left, sauté about five button mushrooms and add to the purée. Salt and pepper to taste. Add sherry and cream when ready to serve and garnish to preference.