- 4 artichokes, top 1 inch and stems removed
- 55 cl fresh lemon juice
- 50 cl olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- pinch of salt
- half a bunch of parsley
- pinch of dried chilli
- 2 tablespoon coarse breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place artichokes stem-side down in a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt generously. Rinse the artichokes and place them into the pot and allow to boil gently for about half an hour on the back burner.
Peel the garlic cloves and gently squash them with the side of the knife. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil in a pan. Place the garlic in and allow to heat gently in the oil. Finely chop the dried chili and add to the oil with the garlic remembering that the chili seeds carry most of the heat, so go easy with the amount of seeds if you prefer it more on the mild side. Heat this through the oil very gently until the garlic turns golden in colour. Remove the contents from the pan into a bowl and set aside.
Remove the garlic form the oil and chop up finely and add back to the oil stirring through again. Chop your parsley leaf and add some of it to the chili garlic oil and mix through. Heat another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in the same pan and heat moderately before adding your coarse breadcrumbs. Keep these moving in the pan by tossing or using a wooden spatula. They are ready when they begin to look golden and crunchy.
Remove from the pan immediately to stop cooking and set aside. When the artichokes are tender enough for the point of a small sharp knife to penetrate, turn the heat off and gently remove from the water. Allow to drain and cool slightly for 10 minutes or so. When they are cool enough to handle, gently squeeze the remainder of the water out of them. Once that is done, squeezing out the excess water.
Using a sharp chef's knife, cut the artichokes exactly into half, taking extra care to continue the cut along the entire length of the stem. If you prefer you can actually start cutting the stem down the middle and continue into the body of the artichoke. Cut all the artichokes in this way and lay open side up. You can choose to spoon in the garlic chili oil mixture into the cavity and also drizzle the surrounding petals or you can mix in the breadcrumbs with the oil and fill the cavity with this mixture.
The artichoke is a thistle-like plant native to the regions of southern Europe, North Africa and the Canary Islands. A powerful part of the plant is its leaves, one of the oldest medicinal plants dating back to 4th century B.C. for digestive problems. In the 16th century, they were already a treatment for liver problems and jaundice. A poem about the artichoke by Richard Foerster: For all the bother, it’s the peeling away we savored, the slow striptease toward a tender heart— how each petal dipped in the buttery sauce was raked across our lower teeth, its residue less redolent of desire than sweet restraint, a mere foretaste of passion, but the scaly plates piled up like potsherds in a kitchen midden, a history in what’s now useless, discarded— so we strained after less and less as the barbs perhaps drew a little blood and we cut our way into the core to rid us of the fiber that would stifle every utterance between us. In our quest for that morsel, how we risked silence, risked even love.