4 globe artichokes
2 vegetable stock cubes
2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 1/2 ounces bread crumbs
3 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
flaky salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
edible gold leaf (optional)
Prepare the artichokes by flattening the tops and cutting off the sharp points of leaves. Remove the stalks and any tough shabby-looking outer leaves. (These can be retained for use in the pasta sauce below. In a food processor, blend the stock cubes, parsley, garlic, bread crumbs cheese, salt and pepper into a powder.
Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in the base of a pan. When hot but not spitting, put in the artichokes and brown the bottoms, then turn to brown the tops. As they begin to caramelize, do not worry; it is important that they brown as this will only add to the flavor – as long as you do not allow them to burn.
When browned, spread open the leaves of the artichokes and press the powder down into the crevices as far asyou can, keeping some back for later. Turn the artichokes upside down (some of the mixture might fall into the bottom of the pan, but this will only help the sauce), set upright again and sprinkle with the remaining powder. Drizzle with more olive oil and add 2 cups of the stock. Bring to boil and leave to reduce over a low heat. Keep adding stock as the sacue reduces, until the artichokes are tender and the sauce thickens. Cook over a low heat, with the lid on, for about 60-75 minutes. Check regularly to make sure the artichokes don't catch on the bottom and add a ladeful of stock as necessary. Serve the artichokes hot, pouring the pan juices over them. I like to top them with some gold leaf for VIP guests.
NOTE: Use the discarded stalks and leaves to make a sauce. Chop the stalks and add them with the leaves with the hot oil. When just browning, throw in all the other ingredients and stir well. Add a ladeful of stock and cook slowly, adding stock as necessary. Cook on a low heat with the lid on until the stalkrs are soft and the gravy is brown. Remove from heat and blend in a food processor, then pass through a mouli sieve for a rich dark sauce. I usually cook this at the same time as the artichokes, keeping some sauce for pasta and adding some to the artichokes for extra dripping.