Ever since I was a little girl I have loved eating whole artichokes. On special occasions my mom would buy each of us one, steam them until tender and place cups of drawn butter next to each plate. A large bowl was set in the center of the table to discard the dipped and tooth scraped leaves. When we would get to the much anticipated heart, mom would help us remove the tiny hairs which failed to develop into distinguishable leaves. This was the best part, dipping the tender heart into melted butter and slowly savoring.
To this day I enjoy the same process. An artichoke is still a treat, and I still prefer them whole with a buttery sauce for dipping. Maybe I am attracted to the journey presented by eating artichokes. Each leaf pealed away reveals what seems like an endless pattern of increasingly smaller and softer leaves, leading to the cherished meaty heart.
Lemony hollandaise is the perfect compliment to artichokes, and really, this post is more about how to execute this blissful sauce more than anything else. It is a good sauce to know how to make since hollandaise instantly elevates a poached egg or poached fish into pure luxury.
Hollandaise is not as hard to make as it has been made out to be. All you need to keep in mind is the importance of temperature and textures peacefully coming together. None other than the wise Julia Child could instruct a cook better on the ways of doing so. I highly recommend page 79-80 in Mastering the Art of French Cooking for full instruction. However, I will recap below. Dip, nibble and enjoy.
*2-6 whole artichokes
Rinse artichokes under cold water. Cut away top 1/3 of artichoke to remove sharp leaf tips. Cut off most of stem ( I like to leave a bit to peel and eat with the heart)
Set a large pot filled 3/4 with cool salted water over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Add 2 wedges of lemon.
Place artichokes in boiling water. Reduce heat to a soft rolling boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, begin hollandaise.
Hollandaise Sauce: (serves 4-6 people)
*1 1/2 sticks high quality unsalted butter
*3 egg yolks (room temp)
*1 Tbsp cold water
*1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
*2 additional Tbsp butter, separated and cold
Cut the 1 1/2 sticks of butter into small pieces. Melt in a small saucepan. Set aside.
In a separate saucepan, whisk the egg yolks for one minute until they become thick. Add the lemon juice, water and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk another half minute. Add a Tbsp of the cold butter without mixing it in. Place the saucepan over extremely low heat and whisk yolk mixture until it begins to slowly thicken, this will take about 2 minutes. Make sure heat is on lowest setting to keep the yolks from thickening too quickly. You will begin to see the bottom of pan between strokes and the yolks will turn light and thick when done.
Remove from heat and whisk in the last Tbsp of cold butter.
Slowly begin adding the melted butter while continuing to whip the yolk mixture, adding quarter teaspoons at a time until sauce becomes smooth and thick. You can then begin to add butter more rapidly, whisking while doing so. "Omit the milky residue at the bottom of butter pan."
Season with additional sea salt, lemon or pepper to taste.
Serve warm. Hollandaise can be kept warm over very low heat for up to one hour.
*An Important Note: If you are a calorie counter, I am sorry. This sauce is not intended for you.