Baby artichokes are the smaller artichokes cut from the base of an artichoke plant. We do have some folks on the Island who grow artichokes in their back yards, but they take a long time to mature and a few tricks for getting buds. So your best bet is to look for baby artichokes in the grocery store, usually in the spring time. I most often see the California brand, Ocean Mist, at Cronig’s. They’re very high quality.

The surprising thing is that baby artichokes don’t take a lot of time to prepare. They don’t have the fuzzy choke in the middle that would need to be removed from a bigger artichoke. And you only need to peel a few layers of leaves off to get to the tender ones. Cut in half or quartered, they are delicious braised or roasted.

This recipe for brown-braising in a skillet is one of my favorite ways to cook them. You brown them first (in this case, in a mix of butter and pancetta or bacon drippings) and then cook them in a bit of liquid, loosely covered, until tender.

These are a perfect side dish for roasted or grilled lamb (Easter!) but also make a nice antipasto, or a filling vegetarian supper with potatoes or polenta.

I originally developed this recipe for my first cookbook, Fast, Fresh & Green, and that version had shallot wedges in it, too. So feel free to tuck a few of those in with the artichokes, or add some chopped garlic with the last bit of butter at the end. Instead of chives at the finish, you could use thyme or mint (both good with artichokes).

Serves 3


  • 2 whole lemons, cut in half (3 halves for the artichoke prep, 1 for the final sauce)
  • 10 baby artichokes (about 18 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon sliced chives


1. Trim and halve the artichokes: Squeeze and drop two of the lemon halves into a medium bowl filled half-way with water. Cut the stems off the artichokes at the base. Peel away the outer leaves of each artichoke until you are left with a mostly lemon-limey colored artichoke (it will be somewhat cone-shaped) with the top third still being a light green. With a sharp knife, cut about 3/4 inch off of the top, and cut the artichoke in half. Rub the cut side of the artichokes with one of the other lemon halves and drop the artichokes into the water.

2. In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan that has a lid, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp (about 5 minutes), turning the heat down to low if the drippings in the pan get too brown. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the pancetta or bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate.

3. Arrange the artichoke halves (with whatever water still clings to them) cut-side down in one layer in the pan. (Take care – the oil will sputter.) Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4. Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, until the bottoms of the artichokes are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. (If the heat on your stovetop is uneven, rotate the pan so that the bottoms get evenly browned.)

5. Pour in the chicken broth and cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly askew so that some steam escapes. Simmer gently, turning down the heat if necessary, until the broth is reduced to a few tablespoons, about 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and squeeze the other lemon half over all. (You could also squeeze the half-used lemon - never too much lemon!) Remove the pan from the heat, and stir, scraping up as much of the browned bits as possible. Taste for salt (don't be afraid to add a bit more) and immediately transfer the artichokes and the pan sauce to a serving dish. Sprinkle the reserved pancetta or bacon and chives over all.


Prepping Baby Artichokes

To prepare whole baby artichokes, cut in half, cut top 3/4 inch off, peel off toughest leaves until you have a limey green core. Leave halved or cut into quarters. Be sure to rub with lemon or drop in lemon water as you are prepping. They discolor quickly.
Susie Middleton