recipe

Credit: Photography by Earl Carter

Artichoke preserve

David Moyle is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Photography by Earl Carter

Thistles, nettles, chestnuts and prickly pear/cactus have formidable defence systems. Hard shells and sharp spines act as a deterrent to food-gatherers. The harsh climates and more difficult growing conditions that these plants can endure thus tend to make them a food for the less prolific periods of food production, such as autumn and winter.

Artichokes are effectively the flower of a specific thistle. Along with cardoon and nettle, whose leaves and stems are edible, they are a strong part of European cuisine.

Most of these plants have other functions besides being food. The stamen from the cardoon can be used as a coagulant in cheese production, as an alternative to animal-based rennet. Thistle is used in many fabrics.

My favourite preparation of artichoke is raw – shaved into a salad. In Italy the in-season tender artichokes are picked leaf by leaf, dipped in olive oil and salt before being dragged through the teeth to enjoy the tender inside of each petal.

This artichoke preserve takes advantage of the very short harvest period of artichokes. If they are left on the plant for too long, they become very hard work for little return.

Once the preserve is ready, it’s simply a matter of opening the jar to add it to a salad or soup, or you can even serve it alongside butter and bread as a snack. Artichokes also make an excellent dip when chopped up or ground using a mortar and pestle with olives and herbs.

Ingredients

Serves 10 as a side

Time: 45 minutes preparation + 1 hour cooking

  • 2 lemons
  • 10 globe artichokes
  • 3 carrots
  • 100g dried mushrooms (porcini or pine mushrooms)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 40g salt
  • 400ml olive oil
  • 500ml white wine
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
Method
  1. Prepare a bucket of acidulated water to clean the artichokes and to reduce the effects of oxidisation. For this quantity I would use two litres of iced water and add the juice of two lemons before adding the lemons to the water.
  2. Peel off the outer petals of the artichokes until only the upper third of the leaves is still green. Then cut off that upper third with a serrated knife. Trim the outside of the stem using a peeler and cut the artichoke in half. Place in the acidulated water until the bouillon is prepared.
  3. Cut the carrots into thumbnail-sized pieces and add to a heavy-based stainless steel pot together with the oil. Sweat this off for about 15 minutes until the carotene has leached into the oil, making it orange. If you have pine mushrooms, add them at this point.
  4. Then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Let this preserving liquid come back to room temperature before adding the cleaned artichokes.
  5. Bring the lot to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until a skewer can puncture the centre of the artichoke easily. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  6. Scoop out the artichokes into a bowl to remove the centre, known as the choke. This furry, spine-like part is inedible and I find the easiest way to remove it is when the artichokes are cooked. Cradle the artichoke in your palm and use a teaspoon to core the choke out.
  7. Place the artichokes and the remaining ingredients in a jar and fill with the preserving liquid. Seal the jar,  then steam it (pressurised if possible) for 10 minutes.
  8. This artichoke preserve can sit in your fridge for many months. I like to serve it with borlotti beans that have been simmered in some of the preserving liquid.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 27, 2022 as "Thistle be delicious".

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