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Artichokes with Béarnaise Sauce

Artichokes with Béarnaise Sauce
In classic French emulsions such as béarnaise and hollandaise, the goal is to force two normally incompatible liquids together. When making either of the two sauces, the temperature of the egg yolks is key: If the yolks get too hot, their proteins, rather than smoothly binding the mixture, will form lumps, resulting in a curdled sauce. You can prevent this from happening by occasionally moving the sauce off the heat or by adding an ice cube, which will halt the curdling action.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 4 large artichokes

For the béarnaise sauce:

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 small fresh tarragon sprigs, leaves minced
      and stems reserved
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
      and kept warm
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper, plus more,
      to taste
  • 1⁄8 tsp.Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1⁄2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Bring a large saucepan two-thirds full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the kosher salt and lemon wedges.

While the water is heating, trim the artichokes: Working with 1 artichoke at a time, pull off the tough outer leaves and trim the stem flush with the bottom. Cut off the top one-third of the artichoke; then, using kitchen shears, trim off any remaining sharp leaf tips. Add the artichokes to the water and partially cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until a sharp knife easily penetrates the base of an artichoke, 45 to 50 minutes.

When the artichokes are almost done, make the sauce: In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the shallot, tarragon stems and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 1 Tbs., 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat, let stand for 5 minutes, and then discard the tarragon stems. Whisk in the egg yolks, return the pan to low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter 1 Tbs. at a time, whisking in thoroughly before adding more. After the first few tablespoons of butter have been incorporated, return the pan to the heat and add the rest more quickly.

When all the butter has been added and the sauce is smooth and glossy, remove from the heat again and whisk in the 1⁄4 tsp. salt, the 1⁄8 tsp. white pepper, the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and minced tarragon. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and white pepper. Serve within 5 minutes, or cover and keep warm for up to 30 minutes in the top of a double boiler over hot but not simmering water.

When the artichokes are ready, remove them from the pan and let cool upside down for about 15 minutes. Place on plates next to a bowl of the sauce for dipping.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Sauce, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2004).