Saturday, May 26, 2012

Alien Ingredient #28: Artichoke Stems

Out of the blue, one of our growers recently brought us a big bunch of artichoke leaves. I really don't know of any use for the gray-green leaves, but the central leaf ribs which you see in the picture below can be used like Swiss chard. Stripped down like this, they sort of resemble celery, chard, cardoon, or rhubarb stalks. We braised one of the artichoke stems in chicken stock with a touch of butter and lemon juice and our initial taste of the small end led us to believe that not only was the stalk edible, but that it tasted very much like artichokes, no surprise there.

I peeled the stalks down like celery or rhubarb, removing as many of the strings as I could and then braised them. We unleashed them on an unsuspecting table of guests at our Chef's Table. We served them stuffed with a classic Bolognese sauce made with some of our local rabbit. And the verdict, tasty but too stringy still. Darn! Back to the drawing board.

So we puréed them and served them as-is as a plate garnish, in a soup with asparagus, and as a sauce for some delicate John Dory filets. They worked admirably for these applications.

We're working on thinly slicing them across the grain to see how that works. I'm hoping that lets us use the stems in salad and side dish applications.

Vote: Delicious, but are probably best puréed and passed through a fine chinois. We'll take more any day.


  1. Italian American here: Boil them until tender and then give them a fry.

  2. Fritto misto came right to mind, but sadly, there was no tender with these stems. The strings were too far developed; maybe they needed to be harvested younger. We will try again in the spring.