I’m currently auditioning meals for my birthday dinner. It’s my birthday, and I’ll eat no meat if I want to. Truthfully, I couldn’t care less about meat most of the time. Sure, I get a craving for chicken two or three times a month, and I eat it. I also cook beef once a month. We generally get greasy hamburgers out somewhere once a month, too. Except I haven’t found a decent replacement for In n Out. If one more person tells me that Five Guys is good, I’m going full-blown vegan. It’s not. Moving on.
Artichokes are my one true love in life. The first time I saw an artichoke field in Castroville, I was on my way to work in Salinas. I grew lettuce and celery for USDA field trials out there. I purposefully took the long way to work so I could stare at mounds of frilly artichoke plants with a single thick stalk projecting straight up into the sky. It’s magical, I don’t care who you are. And if that’s not cool enough for you, just know that Marilyn Monroe got her start as the Artichoke Queen at the Castroville Artichoke festival. Now we’re on the same page, aren’t we?
My best friend that I’m always talking about (Esther) taught me how to steam a whole artichoke and dip each leaf in a mustard-butter sauce before scraping the meat off with your teeth. That with a half bottle of Sauv Blanc was my dinner frequently in grad school. Save money on food, spend it on the wine. Hah.
I had a very memorable grilled artichoke on the vegetable platter at Rutherford Grill in Napa. Say what you will about RG, the vegetable plate is still the best thing my Mom and I have ever ordered at a restaurant. In the history of ever.
The smoked paprika mayo dip is so good, that when I get home from the store with a new jar of mayonnaise, I use the entire jar to make the smoked paprika mayo, and then scoop it right back in the same jar for storing. It’s what mayonnaise is meant to be, in my book.
The brown butter risotto is because everyone keeps talking about brown butter. I mean, I love butter, but would I taste the difference in browned butter? Yes, yes, and oh gosh yes. It’s awesome. I poured it all on a big pile of starch, because the beautiful thing about not eating meat is the excuse to eat more carbs. Amen.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) white table wine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth, hot
- 2 whole artichokes, cleaned and trimmed
- olive oil, for the grill
- 1/3 cup real mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- lemons, for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Let it cook, undisturbed until the fat starts sizzling. Keep an eye on it, and let it cook until it turns a dark caramel color. Remove it from the heat immediately, and strain into a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the browned butter back into the pan, and cook the chopped onions over medium heat until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the rice to the saucepan, and cook until the edges just start to appear translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook until almost evaporated.
- Meanwhile, have the chicken broth hot and ready to go on the side.
- Add the first 1/2 cup of chicken broth and cook until almost evaporated, stirring almost continuously. Repeat with the remaining chicken broth until the rice is al dente and creamy, about 20 minutes. When done, drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of browned butter.
- Meanwhile, grease the grill with olive oil. Grill the cleaned and trimmed artichokes on a grill pan (or outdoor grill) until nicely charred.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
- Divide the risotto between two plates, top each with a grilled artichoke and a dollop of the smoked paprika mayo. Add lemon slices on the side for garnish.