4-14: Stuffed Artichokes

Hot Take: Artichokes are the lobster of the vegetable world. 4-14: Stuffed Artichokes represents this well: too much work for too little satisfaction. Peeling the little leaves off the artichoke and harvesting the heart feels a lot like picking apart the carapace of an undersea crustacean.

Stuffing an artichoke with a mushroom stew is a unique way to serve this giant edible thistle flower. These plants don’t grow naturally where I’m from, so my experience with artichokes only came after moving to California. My favorite way to enjoy them is marinated artichoke hearts.

As always, the TIPS section really came through here. I’ve never thought to drain artichokes upside down, but it makes a lot of sense as to why you would. The plant is naturally sitting upright to collect water and sunshine, so to drain completely, it makes sense to put them upside down.

I left one important item out of this ingredient photo, a half a stick of butter. Jamie doesn’t really like artichokes, so I cut this recipe in half. This will leave me with a lot of extra hollandaise, but this is a good thing as you’ll see later.

Even trimmed back, these two artichokes barely fit in the first pot I tried to use, so I scaled up to our biggest pot. The recipe said to add water to barely cover the artichoke. I found it odd because my artichokes were floating, so I’d never really be able to cover them with water. I took the instruction as put enough water to mostly submerge the vegetables. Make sure to add salt!

Hollandaise is perhaps my favorite sauce. It comes on 5-4: Eggs Benedict which is probably my favorite breakfast dish. I’m just glad they make a ready-made version that is easy to prepare.

The recipe calls for half-and-half, so I made my own concoction. First, I started with greek yogurt and then added lactose-free milk until I created one cup of my own half-and-half.

While I’m waiting for the water to boil, I started breaking down the mushrooms and onions for the stew. That knife made quick work of that.

The lid I’m holding in the upper left corner fit perfectly to hold down the artichokes down into the water.

Look at that beautiful green color. These artichokes looked done, so I pulled them to drain and cool down while I started the stew.

Here’s something artistic for a change. A beautiful pad of melting butter in a skillet is the start to many wonderful dishes.

When the onions became slightly translucent, I added the mushrooms and cooked the vegetables until the mushrooms turned slightly golden.

Peeling back all the leaves was effortless. The heart became exposed after lifting a center cluster of petals out of the flower. In this shot, you can see the top of heart covered in fuzzy, hair-like filaments. Those must be removed to eat the tender heart beneath.

That gray matter is another inedible layer. I scraped it off with a spoon and in the process cracked one artichoke heart in three pieces. The other heart came out intact, however this changed my approach to the final plating of the dish.

Time to make the stuffing for these Stuffed Artichokes. First, I added the flour to the vegetables to create a thickening base for the stew.

After I added the half-and-half, I combined everything and cooked until thickened. I tasted it and noticed I hadn’t seasoned anything yet.

Time to add some port wine, thyme, salt and pepper. Now it’s a proper stew. Delicious. Now to figure out how to stuff this into the artichokes.

My artichokes were very tender so they mostly fell apart when I tried to add the stuffing. A few years ago, I learned about how to eat an artichoke so I ate some of these as they fell apart in my hands. Jamie had just recently found these soup bowls in a clearance bin at the supermarket and had to have them. The heart fit perfectly in the bottom of the cup and then I stood the leaves up to create a cup style lining for the stuffing.

The stew took on a beautiful golden color and I had the perfect amount to fill the two artichokes. I should have turned the broiler on by now to get it heating up to temperature, but alas, I forgot until about now.

The recipe calls for cooking all of the artichokes together in a dish and pouring the hollandaise across all of them at once. Since I had a whole packet’s worth of hollandaise for just two artichokes, I got generous with it.

The broiler left a beautiful char on the skin of the hollandaise. This really brought out the nutmeg and butter flavor in the sauce. The leaves got a little singed, but you only eat the bottom of the leaf that is soaked in hollandaisey goodness.

The stew and the sauce combined into a creamy filling that complimented the tender artichoke heart. I immediately ate one and reheated the other a day or so later. I heart-ily (pardon the pun) enjoyed the dish, but would only make it again if I had some other artichoke fans to eat it with me.