Thursday 28 June 2007

Recipe: Globe Artichokes

OK - it's something of an exaggeration to call this a 'recipe', when all that's involved is plunging some artichokes into boiling water and leaving them there for half an hour. The reality is, though, that I suspect a lot of people don't actually know that that's all you have to do - with the result that very few people buy them. And it bothers me that at this rate they'll disappear entirely, as retailers decide they're a waste of shelf space. Which would be a catastrophe, since Globe Artichokes are one of the true pleasures of summer!

Allow one Globe Artichoke per person. My preferred method of cooking them is as follows:

1. Fill a large pan with water, salted as for any vegetable, and bring it to the boil.

2. Add the Artichokes, bum-side down, and let the water return to the boil, then cover the pan and cook the artichokes at a rolling boil for exactly thirty minutes. (Before covering the pan with a lid, I generally put a Japanese floating lid right on top of the Artichokes, to keep them submerged during cooking; this is a detail that needn't bother you if you don't have one, however......)

3. Test for doneness by removing an Artichoke from the water and pulling off one of the base leaves; if the flesh is tender and comes easily away from the leaf, then the Artichokes are done. If not, give them a few more minutes' cooking and try again.

4. When cooked, remove the Artichokes from the water and leave them to drain and cool to room temperature bum-side up. Once cooled, for aesthetic purposes, slice off any remaining stalk, so they will sit flat on the plate, and snip off all the points of the leaves (sounds fiddly, but in fact takes only a couple of minutes - this is best done after cooking as the leaves are easier to cut at this stage, and if you do it before cooking you then have to acidulate the cooking water in order to stop the cut edges from going brown during cooking)

Serve, accompanied with either a vinaigrette or mayonnaise, flavoured to choice, for dipping the leaves into before you eat them. Don't forget generous bowls on the table for all of that Artichoke detritus!


Joanna said...

If they disappear from the market then you'll have to grow them - they're very easy, because they are a kind of thistle, so pretty tough, and you can renew them each spring by cutting little offsets and planting them (which enables you to chuck the older plants whose production has gone down). They need NO attention at all.

The best ones to grow easily are the small purple Italian ones, which you don't eat as you describe (you need big-hearted French ones for that), but cook in their entirety before a choke develops ... details here

I've really been enjoying your blog since discovering it a few weeks ago

Best wishes,

Pomiane said...

In London, I think my window-boxes are a little too cramped to contemplate growing vegetables.....and I wonder if Globe Artichokes would grow in Italy? I suspect not, as I only ever see the little purple ones you describe....which I never think of as artichokes, as they cook so entirely differently from Globes. My favourite way with the small ones, I think, is sliced and cooked down as the base for a frittata.

Thanks for your comments!