8 oz smoked bacon pieces
freshly ground black pepper (optional)
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup dry white Provencal wine
4 fresh bay leaves
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Tear off and discard the two outer base layers of leaves from the artichokes. Trim or peel the stems. Slice about 2 inches off the pointed tops of the leaves. Cut each globe in half lengthwise.
Use a spoon or a melon baller to dig out the fluffy choke. discard this and the tiny leaves around it. Rub the lemon over all the cut surfaces. Prepare all the artichokes in the same way.
Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole dish until very hot. Sizzle the bacon until the fat runs: about 3 minutes.
Add some pepper and nutmeg (if using), the wine, and bay leaves. Put the artichokes in the pan, cut side down. Cover tightly and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Rearrange the artichokes so that the top layer is now at the bottom. Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes more. Test the top layer: the artichoke flesh must be easy to pierce with a fork. Continue cooking if necessary. Top up with extra wine if it looks sparse.
Serve the artichokes hot or warm, sprinkled with luscious reduced sauce and some chopped parsley.
Note: Quarter the artichokes, if necessary, to fit them in the pan
From France Today, originally published in Flavors of Provence by Clare Ferguson. Ryland Peters & Small, $21.95,
in 2010, it's:
for elegant, sustainable and pragmatic
Chic Provence Interior Design