Sunday, April 22, 2007

Baby artichokes with pancetta and chives

It's so convenient to pick up a bag of frozen artichoke hearts at Trader Joes that I don't usually think to buy fresh baby artichokes. I picked some up today to give them a try. In my opinion, there is a very distinct difference between frozen artichoke hearts and fresh baby artichokes. The fresh baby artichokes have a much stronger flavor and better texture. It's a little bit of work to prep them for cooking, but I think it's worth it.

To prepare baby artichokes for cooking:

1. Fill a bowl with cold water and add the juice of a few lemons. Storing the cut artichokes in the acidulated water will help prevent discoloration.

2. Peel the outer leaves off the artichokes until you get to the light green inner leaves.

3. Cut a slice of the top of each artichoke to remove the tips of the leaves.

4. Peel the stems of the artichokes and cut a slice off the bottom of the stem.

5. Cut the artichokes in half and throw them in the lemon water.

I blanched the artichoke halves for 4 minutes and then transferred them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Next, I rendered some pancetta in a pan. I added the artichokes to the pan and sauteed them until they had browned. I seasoned the artichokes with a little bit of salt and pepper and added fresh chives.

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