Artichokes with garlic and parsley, Provence style
This dish is typically made with the small artichoke variously known in France as poivrade, violet de Provence or bouquet (perhaps because they are often sold in bunches — or bouquets — of five). If these are not available where you live, substitute 2 globe artichokes for the 6 smaller ones and increase the cooking time to 90 minutes.
As for the other ingredients, choose flat-leaf parsley if it’s available. It is said in France to be more flavorful than the curly kind. And, as always, go for extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil — the best quality you can find.
Artichauts à la barigoule may be served as a hot starter, as a side dish, or as the main dish of a vegetarian meal.
1 quart (1 liter) cold water
6 small artichokes or 2 globe artichokes
2 large cloves garlic
several sprigs of parsley
2 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 cup (15 cl) water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour the quart or liter of cold water into a large bowl or pot. Add the juice of one lemon. You will drop the artichokes into the lemon water as you finish paring them to prevent discoloration.
Pare the artichokes one by one: Pull off and discard most of the leaves until only the tenderest leaves and the heart remain. Using a sharp knife, slice off the stem and the tops of the remaining leaves, as shown at left. You will be left with a small artichoke about 1.5 inches (4 cm) in diameter and 1.5 inches (4 cm) high.
As soon as you have finished trimming each artichoke, plunge it into the basin of lemon water. Leave the artichokes in the water to soak while you proceed to the next step.
Peel and finely mince the garlic. Finely chop enough parsley to make 2 tablespoons. Combine the garlic and parsley in a small bowl.
One by one, remove the artichokes from the lemon water, drain briefly, and using your fingers gently separate the leaves to reach the bristly choke in the center. Pull away the bristles as best you can. This is delicate work, and if you force too hard you can break the artichoke.
Fill the center of each artichoke with the garlic/parsley stuffing. Place them standing upright in a heavy pot. Spoon the olive oil over the artichokes. Cover the pot. Wait 10 minutes. (This is a great time to have a glass of wine.)
Open the pot and pour in the remaining water. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer very gently for one hour, checking frequently to make sure that the water has not evaporated. Add more water from time to time as necessary.
Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you are making the artichokes ahead of time, stop here and reheat before proceeding. They should be served very hot.
When ready to serve the hot artichokes, remove them to a serving dish. Intensify the sauce by boiling it down briefly — just a minute or two. Pour the sauce over the artichokes and serve at once. Serves 2.