confit artichokes (the modern pantry style)

as i told you, i’m going to stand on the chef’s feet help to cook at the modern pantry in london, for two weeks in september! am i looking forward? yes! but i’m also a teeny, tiny bit afraid… like, i dream of knives and cutting off my extremities with the very sharp, professional knives, like, only every night, but apart from that i’m totally sane and looking forward… laugh.
so, in order to be prepared at least a bit (given that i’m a complete cooking rookie with no solid skills at all), i ordered their cookbook and dug into the first few recipes. of course, i started with the artichokes, right away! because, as you know, my fondness for artichokes goes a long, long, long, very long way… it’s a love story.  
when i looked at this recipe though, i was skeptic. confit obviously actually means ‘cooked and boiled in oil’? and for only five minutes, total? how could this possibly render them tender, without deep frying them? 
let me assure you: those unusual artichokes globes were the best i ever tasted. i made them twice so far – and the process (i.e. the preparing of the artichokes) is not a quick one, at all. you will love them cut into slices, on top of your pasta al pomodoro. you will love them with baguette, dunking the bread in the left-over oil. and you will basically lick your fingers just eating them plain, as a starter. 
my conclusion? well, my career at the modern pantry hasn’t even started… but already i’m a huge fan of their kitchen (which becomes obvious, given the many pictures i had to post today). it’s like, why have i never thought of boiling my artichokes in olive oil…? duh! 
confit artichokes (the modern pantry style)
adapted slightly, at least the second time around, and written down in my own words

4 large, firm artichokes
4 organic lemons, zest and juice
1 fresh, purple garlic bulb, cloves removed
6 sprigs estragon
6 sprigs rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
3 tsp. fleur de sel, more to taste
1 tsp. black pepper corns, crushed in a mortar
750 ml olive oil
prepare the artichokes. note: this is a time consuming process! but i promise once the globes are prepped, the rest is pretty quick and simple. i learned from the modern pantry that you can leave the globes as a whole (like i did before, here) – but still leave a crown of the inner, tender leaves on. that actually looks nice and is also a good way not to throw away anything of those goodies. what you will need is: some disposable rubber gloves (to prevent your hands and nails from turning brown…), a sharp (alas preferably not plastic but metal) melon baller to remove the inner hay, a sharp knife for the trimming and a bucket full of ice cold water with the juice of 1 lemon.

start by removing the outer leaves until the slightly purple ones appear. trim the artichoke leaves from the top, so that only about 2-3cm remain and the spiky parts are cut off. make sure to cut away all wooden or dry parts at the bottom, too, as this won’t get much softer with cooking. now start to remove the hay from the inside by using the melon baller. scratch everything out, carefully, without hurting the hearts. when everything is removed apart from the leaves crown, place in the lemon-ice-water until further use. proceed with all of the globes.

prepare the flavors for the cooking: remove the cloves from the garlic bulb, half each one. then remove the zest from all 3 remaining lemons, and squeeze their juice. wash the herbs and pat dry.

now heat all of the olive oil in a (not too small) saucepan, over medium heat (important here is not to heat the oil too much, as it will end up in deep frying the artichokes instead of boiling them). when the oil is warm (not sizzling), add the garlic cloves. when they are soft, after about 3-4 minutes, add the lemon zests and herbs. wait for about 2 minutes. then, one by one, add the globes to the oil, letting them sink in carefully. close the lid and let cook for 2 minutes. remove the lid, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, close the lid again, turn up the heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes. note: the modern pantry advises to only cook the globes for maximum 5 minutes, and to not overcook them. i strongly agree! the bite is what makes them special. but still, as i had very, very large artichokes, i figured the fives minutes weren’t enough… i went with about 7 minutes, at least, on this stage.

turn down the heat to zero, remove the lid and let the artichokes cool in their oil. season with more fleur de sel to taste. when cooled completely, place in an air tight container, like a weck jar or a soupière, or simply cover with cellophane foil and place in the fridge. the artichokes can be stored for up to 1 week in the fridge. note: the oil can be stored, too and used for pasta and other mediterranean dishes! it will add a nice zesty flavor, you will find.

on using the artichokes: as mentioned above, i’d use them sliced over spaghetti (or any other pasta) al pomodoro, or whole as a starter, accompanied by baguette, on top of a salad or in lavish italian style sandwiches… oh, yes please.

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