Eating In: Artichokes and Lemon Butter Sauce

There are two camps of thought about artichokes – the camp who thinks they are delicious and interactive and even fun, and the camp who thinks they are too much damn work. I belong to the former camp. The Boy belongs to the latter. Regardless, we got two artichokes in our CSA Box last week, and so I set out – for the first time in my life – to cook some artichokes.

I will say, prepping them is quite an ordeal involving snapping, snipping, washing and chopping. Thank goodness I had Julia Child to walk me through it.

Once I’d snapped and snipped and washed and chopped, the rest of the artichoke prep is simple – plop into boiling salted water and boil until bottoms are tender (35-45 minutes) and leaves pull out easily. Your water MIGHT turn a weird brown. I’m not sure if that was the dishtowel I was using to keep the artichokes submerged. Ah, well.

You can go straightforward and simple and serve your artichokes with a bowl of melted butter (and trust me, ain’t nobody gonna complain), but since this whole endeavor was channeling Julia Child, I went with her Beurre au Citron (Lemon Butter Sauce) – and OH. MY. GOODNESS.

That sauce – oh man, that sauce – it is literally pretty much butter and lemon juice and yet somehow it’s creamy and lush and so much more than that. Wow, Julia. So this is why people worship you as the Queen of All Things Butter.

Beurre au Citron
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Obviously, I served this in individual glass ramekins, not a “barely warmed sauceboat” (ah, my kingdom for a sauceboat), but as I noted above my god is it delicious. And you could probably use it as a sauce for pretty much anything and make that thing more delicious. I mean, butter, am I right?

Yield: 1/2 Cup

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper [I used regular since I didn’t have white]
4 oz (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 8 pieces
2-3 tablespoons hot fish or vegetable stock or hot water

Boil down the lemon juice with the salt and pepper until it has reduced to 1 tablespoon.

Remove from heat and immediately beat in 2 pieces of chilled butter. Set over very low heat and beat in the rest of the butter, a piece at a time, to make a thick, creamy sauce. Immediately remove from heat.

Just before serving, beat in the hot liquid by driblets to warm the sauce. Correct seasoning and serve in a barely warmed sauceboat.


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