1 tsp. black pepper corns, crushed in a mortar
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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