Sunday, May 11, 2008

Russ Parsons' Artichokes with Prosciutto and Cream

It is commonly known in my family that I have a great affinity for “A” vegetables. In truth, I love vegetables of every alphabetic affiliation, but asparagus, avocados, arugula, and artichokes are always at the top of my list.

With company coming (and feeling bored with my usual repertoire), I flipped through my ever increasing portfolio of clipped and pasted recipes hoping for some inspiration. As usual, Russ Parsons rescued me in my hour of need with this recipe for braised fresh artichoke hearts. This was my first attempt at braising artichokes and, in addition to be quite easy to make, the result was deliciously creamy with the texture and taste of prosciutto adding the perfect rustic note.

It provided a great balance for my dinner of citrus marinated, grilled chicken with a salad of arugula and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and yielded lots of yummy noises at the table.

Russ Parsons’ Artichokes with Prosciutto and Cream
Los Angeles Times - December 29, 2004

1 ¾ pounds medium OR
2 ¼ pounds baby artichokes
2 tablespoons butter
3 slices prosciutto, cut into slivers
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

Trim the artichokes. If using medium ones, quarter them lengthwise. Place them in a bowl of acidulated water (water with a little vinegar or lemon or lime juice).

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the prosciutto and shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan. Add the thyme and water. Cover the skillet and cook until the artichokes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Shake the pan from time to time to stir the contents, adding a little more water if necessary.

When the artichokes are easily pierced with a knife, remove the lid and raise the heat to high. Cook until the moisture evaporates and the artichokes sizzle, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it cook for a minute. Add the cream and return the pan to the burner over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the cream has thickened enough to lightly coat the artichokes, about 3 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary (depending on the saltiness of the prosciutto). Season with pepper and serve warm.

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