a home cook with notions & an appetite
What we’re about to embark on is not so much an adventure in lamb so much as an adventure in making one’s own artichoke hearts. Ever wonder how to do those by hand on your own? Me neither. But I know now and after this, so shall you. The lamb adventure? Excellent, as always.
There is a recipe within this, and I didn’t document it, so mea culpa. We’ll get back around to them soon enough. Next summer. Onto ingredients:
First things first, a lemon ice bath:
The lemon juice is squeezed into the water before I float in the rinds. This bath will protect the artichokes from turning into brown lumps of ick when their lovely insides are exposed to oxygen. No one likes brown lumps of ick.
Prepping the artichokes is much easier if you have a partner in crime. By the way, this is yet another prep item we’re pretty sure is on the list of awful tasks for recent culinary high school graduates destined to loose all hope.
It starts with peeling the outer leaves on the baby artichoke until you get to the lovely green and purple leaves. Eyeball it. After that, it’s all fast – chop off stem, chop off top, trim bottom to point and drop into the lemon-water while you repeat 17 more times (only 8 a piece if you’re splitting!).
Once all of these are done, the artichokes get a bit of a simmer (in lemon water). The book instructions call for laying a clean, damp towel over the artichokes to keep them submerged. We used the pasta pot. How clever were we? After 15 minutes, these were set aside and covered with cooking liquid and left to cool.
I’d had the lamb chops out the entire time. If I haven’t mentioned this before, Mr. Keller is quite adamant about using room-temperature meat, which means at least 30 minutes on the counter. The oven has been preheating to 350 degrees and I’ve set a cooling rack over a cookie sheet so the chops will have a place to rest without sitting in oil. The canola oil first heats up in my cast-iron pan over medium-high heat and I browned the chops for 4 minutes on one side, flipped and cooked with garlic and thyme and browned on the second side for 3 minutes. I did try the cool basting in it’s own fat thing, but I never look as cool as a Top Chef contestant. Once everyone was browned and moved to the cooling rack, the cooling rack was moved to the oven for 8 minutes (until a meat thermometer said the chops were 130°). Chops then hung out on the counter so we could move onto the final step.
Remember the artichokes? We’re going to do this:
Did I mention that I cleared the excess fat out of the skillet? Yes, I used the skillet again because of the good flavor. After draining the artichokes, I cut them in half and let them have a brief toss over medium heat for a quick minute. Capers and olives went in for half of that time and then the tomatoes went in and I stirred until everything was thoroughly heated through – another minute or two. After artfully arranging and topping with salt, I thoroughly enjoyed my lamb.
PRO-TIP: Buy double the olives you need. Snacking is a must.