This is a classic French method of cooking artichokes. Served on its own it makes an attractive and unusual hors d’oeuvre.
It is also an excellent vegetable accompaniment to grilled chicken.
2 pints water
24 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 slices bacon, rinds removed and cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoon dried basil
12 oz. canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoons brandy (optional)
4 fl. oz. white wine
8 fl. oz. chicken stock or water and
1 chicken stock cube
1 bouquet garni, consisting of
3 parsley sprigs,
1 spray of thyme and
1 bay leaf, tied together
Cut off the stems of the artichokes, remove the small leaves at the bases and cut off the tops of the leaves, leaving the artichokes about 3 inches high.
Slice the artichokes into quarters, and, with a spoon, scrape out the chokes. Put the water and 2 teaspoons of the salt into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the artichokes and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the artichokes on kitchen paper towels and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan or flameproof casserole over moderate heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Stir in the onions and garlic and fry for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft.
Place the artichoke quarters into the casserole and spoon the bacon mixture over them. Stir in the remaining 4- tea-spoon of salt and 6 grindings of black pepper. Add the basil, tomatoes, tomato puree and brandy, if used. Bring to the boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour the wine and stock over the artichokes, add the bouquet garni. Cover and cook over low heat for ½ hour.
If there is too much liquid raise the heat and boil quickly until the liquid has reduced slightly. Remove the bouquet garni before serving. Serve immediately.