Now in their third year, we can safely say that globe artichokes do well at Merrybower! The first year we had a handful, and last year we steamed some, then the rest went to flower as the kitchen extension meant we had no preparation space to cook! This year we finally have a kitchen where more than one person can stand and prepare food – something invaluable when you grow and prepare an awful lot of your own food, so we attempted to preserve the globe artichoke hearts in oil.
Last year we steamed them, served them on a plate with a knob of butter melted on top so it ran between the leaves. This was the only way I knew how to eat them, it was one of those messy delicacies I remembered from childhood years in Naples, a dish a child couldn’t resist – butter, mess and a gorgeously delicate flavour. We’d pull each leaf off individually by the spiky end, and draw the fleshy bit between clenched teeth, pulling off the tender flesh. Then came the best bit – the revealed globe artichoke hearts sat in a pile of butter!
To the matter in hand – this year we have a bumper crop of lovely artichoke globes and didn’t fancy wasting them, so I decided to make globe artichoke hearts in oil. I lopped off around twenty of them, even some that weren’t as tight as the rest, and sloped up to the house. I then cut off all of the stem, and the spikey leaves, and scooped out the fluffy internal fibres with the handle end of a teaspoon after halving the globe. Some globes were so large I had to quarter them. To test if I’d taken enough off, I’d chew the ocassional piece – I’d never done this before so was going purely on what you see in the jars of artichoke hearts you can buy in the shops.
Note of warning – just like walnuts, the cutting process leaves your hands a striking shade of nicotine brown! Gloves are your friend.
Once all were cut, I rinsed the globe artichoke hearts under a cold tap and lay them out in the bottom of a deep frying pan, covering them with olive oil. I’m going to guess that any oil would do – but flavour is king!
Then I added the rest of the lemon, thinly sliced and sea salt and mixed Italian herbs to taste. You can use anything here in terms of herbs – possibly even nothing would be fine!
Next I covered the frying pan and heated the whole concoction for around 30 minutes on the lowest heat setting – testing them to see if they’re done is the best bit! Once the test pieces had passed muster, I poured the whole concoction into a screw top Mason Jar, any sterlised jar will do, and allowed them to cool down slowly before plopping the jar into the fridge. I’ve been reliably informed they’ll keep fine in there for a month, unless opened, but I don’t think we’re going to find out!