FOOD: Artichokes à la barigoule.
The window in which to pick artichokes is very short. They go from being young, tender and a joy to prepare to a stringy and tough time-waster, which makes absolute sense considering they are a thistle. This, combined with their short shelf life, means most people buy them ready prepared or pickled.
I have always loved the Italian way of eating artichokes at their peak: simply the whole flower with good-quality olive oil and salt in which to dip each petal. You then use your teeth to strip the yellow part from each leaf, which is extremely tender and delicious. As much as I would love to serve them like this in restaurants, there is a basic level of preparation required to ensure artichokes go from being infuriating to interactive and charming.
This recipe is based on a French preparation – à la Barigoule – which is essentially a preserve cooked in wine, vinegar and oil with the addition of bacon or mushrooms. It’s a very subtle preserve – not quite a pickle – and it can be served as almost a dish on its own. I think of it as a dressed salad in a jar, although that patent is still pending. I also like to chop it and roll it through pasta with butter and herbs. After this shoot, my partner used the leftover artichokes on the stinging nettle rice from an earlier recipe and it was really great. I do claim most of the triumph myself, though.
To clean artichokes, first strip back the outer leaves until the tender yellow part extends up to two thirds of the body, then cut the top third off. Cut the base of the stem off to about 10 centimetres and peel with a vegetable peeler, then cut the head in half lengthwise. Use a sharp spoon or rounded-edge knife to remove the “choke” or the furry part at the centre of
• the head.
Photography: Earl Carter
DAVID MOYLE is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.