Artichokes with hollandaise is one of those matches that just seem to work. This is a great snack or appetiser to eat with your hands to get things going.
- 4 large globe artichokes
- ½ lemon
- 250 ml milk
- 150 gm plain flour
- 1 litre olive oil or vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 400 ml white wine
- 300 ml olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- ½ carrot, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, lightly squashed
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- 4 egg yolks
- 200 ml clarified butter (see note)
- 1To make the bouillon, place all ingredients in a large saucepan with 1.2 litres water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
- 2Meanwhile, trim artichokes of any tough outer leaves and cut head in half horizontally, discarding tips. Peel stalk with a vegetable peeler and rub flesh with cut side of lemon half as you go, to prevent discolouration. When all artichokes are prepared, plunge them into bouillon and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and leave artichokes to cool in bouillon, resting a small plate on top of artichokes to keep them submerged.
- 3For the hollandaise sauce, place vinegar and peppercorns in a small saucepan along with 4 tbsp cold water. Bring to the simmer and reduce by a third, then set aside to cool. In a medium-sized stainless-steel bowl, whisk yolks, then strain cold vinegar reduction over them (discard peppercorns). Place bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch water. Whisk constantly, keeping an eye on heat (if sauce gets too hot, it will curdle). As yolks start to cook, sauce will increase in volume, thicken slightly and become creamy – this should take about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and continue to whisk, gradually adding tepid, melted clarified butter. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste. If sauce seems too thick for dipping, it can easily be thinned by adding hot water a little at a time. Cover and keep warm while you fry the artichokes.
- 4Just before serving, remove artichokes from bouillon and cut each one into six even-sized wedges, taking care to scrape out the furry choke from each one. Place milk and flour in separate small bowls and season flour with salt. Dip a piece of artichoke into milk, give it a shake to get rid of excess milk, then roll in flour. Lay floured artichoke wedge on a tray lined with baking paper and repeat with remaining artichoke wedges.
- 5In a deep saucepan, heat oil until a cooking thermometer registers 180C. (If you don’t have a thermometer, test temperature of oil by dropping in a cube of bread; it will brown in about 15 seconds if oil is hot enough.) Add about 8 artichoke wedges (be careful as hot oil will spit) and cook for about 3 minutes until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on absorbent towel and season with a pinch of salt. Repeat until all artichokes are cooked. Quickly deep-fry basil leaves for a few seconds, then drain on absorbent towel.
- 6Serve artichokes scattered with basil leaves, with a bowl of hollandaise sauce alongside for dipping.
Note For clarified butter, place 250gm butter in a small saucepan over very low heat and melt butter as slowly as possible. As butter melts it will start to separate; continue to cook until it has completely separated. (Alternatively, butter may be placed in a microwave and melted on lowest setting until it separates.) When butter has separated, there will be a golden buttery liquid on top and white milk solids will have settled at the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour the clear golden liquid into a jug and discard solids. You should have about 200ml clarified butter, and it will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Cumulus Inc. by Andrew McConnell is published by Penguin Lantern ($59.95, hbk). This extract has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.