Jacques Pépin’s Artichokes Helen

Cream, tarragon, and brandied mushrooms come together in this old-school French recipe perfected by the culinary legend.

  • Serves

    6 as an appetizer

  • Cook

    1 hour


By Jacques Pépin

Published on April 17, 2024

Jacques Pépin, the legendary TV host and cookbook author, has been making these classic French artichokes “Helen”—mounded with creamy cognac-spiked mushrooms, then broiled—since the 1960s. When shopping, seek out either large tapered artichokes or small globes.

Featured in “Why You Should Heart Artichokes (If You Don’t Already)” by Benjamin Kemper.


  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fine salt, divided
  • 6 medium artichoke bottoms (about 12 oz.), trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups button mushrooms (6 oz.), cut into ½-in. pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. cognac
  • ⅔ cup cold heavy cream, divided
  • 1½ tsp. finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1½ tsp. finely chopped tarragon leaves
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. potato starch, dissolved in 1 Tbsp. of cold water
  • 1½ tsp. finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Step 1

To a medium pot, add the lemon juice, olive oil, ¾ teaspoon of the salt, the artichokes, and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat (leaving the artichokes in the liquid).

Step 2

In a separate medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and their liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the cognac and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup of the cream, the parsley, tarragon, black pepper, and remaining salt and bring to a boil. Stir in the dissolved potato starch and continue boiling until thickened, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat. 

Step 3

Position a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the broiler to high. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the artichokes, cavities facing up, to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat the remaining cream to stiff peaks and scrape into the mushroom mixture; working quickly, use a silicone spatula to gently incorporate. Spoon the mixture evenly into the artichoke cavities, sprinkle evenly with Pecorino, and broil until browned, 1–3 minutes. Serve warm.

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