2 sticks + 2 Tbls unsalted butter, divided
3 egg yolks
1 Tbls cold water
Salt & White pepper
- Remove stem by bending it at the base until it snaps off. Break off small leaves at the base of the artichoke. Trim the base with a knife so the artichoke will stand solidly upright. Lay the artichoke on its side and slice 1/2 inch to 1 inch off the top of the center cone of leaves. Trim off the points of the rest of the leaves with scissors [see bottom image to see detail of the leaves and where to cut]. Wash under cold water.
- Boil a large pan of salted water (1 tsp salt for every quart of water) so that all the artichokes can fit in it at the same time. When its brought to a boil, gently place artichokes in the water, stem side down. If the water doesn't cover them fully, place a cheese cloth over the top to prevent discoloration (optional, I don't see much of a difference). Bring the water back up to a rapid boil and then boil slowly for 35-45 minutes. [I boiled mine for 50 minutes (on accident) and the leaves were just falling off from the stem. This was amazing, and really easy for the kids to eat, but not as pretty for a presentation. Just keep that in mind!]
- Remove from water and place on serving platter. Gently pull leaves outwards so the center can be reached. [Optional: Remove the heart] The center creates a perfect well to hold the sauce!
- Cut 2 sticks of the butter into bits and place in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove after all the butter is melted and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, beat the 3 egg yolks for about 1 minute with a wire whisk until they become thick and sticky.
- Add the water, lemon juice, and a big pinch of salt to the yolks and beat for half a minute more.
- Add 1 tablespoon of cold butter, but do not beat it in. Then place the saucepan over very low heat and stir the yolks with a wire whip until the slowly thicken into a smooth cream. This will take 1 to 2 minutes. The egg yolks have thickened enough when you can begin to see the bottom of the pan between strokes and the mixture forms a light cream on the wires of the whip.
- Immediately remove from heat and beat in the cold butter, which will stop the eggs from cooking any more.
- The beating the egg yolks with a wire whip, pour on the melted butter by droplets or quarter-teaspoonfuls until the sauce begins to thicken into a very heavy cream. Then pour the butter a little more rapidly. Omit the milky residue at the bottom of the butter pan.
- Season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
This recipe is from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" Cookbook