Oh yes, with this dish I’m going up on elegance and more for sure. Thought for my future menu and experimenting for the first time with foams and textures; reading about flavour combinations and cooking methods. This plate has travelled from Julia Child’s artichoke bottoms cooked in a ‘blanc’ (‘like it used to be done’), to an artichoke foam accomplished with Ferran Adrià’s ISI Gourmet Syphon. Over these two textures a poached egg and to enhance flavour crispy pancetta and some Parmigiano Reggiano. This is harmony ladies and gentlemen.
Ingredients. For 4.
- 12 fresh artichokes, the biggest you can find. If they are not so big then you will be needing 16, 8 of which will be bottoms and the rest for the foam.
- 4 eggs, best quality and very fresh
- 100 gr of pancetta
- Parmigiano Regianno cheese
- 3 lemons
- 1/2 onion finely sliced
- 200 gr of cream 35.1% grease
- 100 gr water and 100 of the broth form the artichokes
- 30 gr butter
- 3 gr agar-agar
- 1/2 litre ISI-Gourmet syphon
- salt, pepper and nutmeg
Let’s take it by steps.
1. Artichokes. Day before.
- First you need to pick up the 4 biggst artichokes because we need the biggest bottoms or hearts, where the poached egg will be layed on. If they are smal there will be 2 per plate. These ones we will prepare as Julia Child did, ‘as done before’ a friend told me: in a blanc.
- First break the stem off close to the base of the artichoke. Holding the bottom up, bend a lower leaf back until it snaps. Then pull it off. Continue until you’ve gone beyond the curse, where the cones of leaves folds inward.
- Cut off remaining cone of leaves close above the top of the artichoke bottom. Immediately rub with lemon to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown.
- Cook in a blanc: 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a litre of water. Once the flour has dissolved well with the water add the rest of ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the artichoke bottoms. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender when pierced with a knife. If you’re not going to use them right away preserve them on the blanc adding oil to the top. This we will do to use the next day.Before using with a spoon remove the choke and trim the remaining leaf ends.
For all the other artichokes:
- At the same time we are cooking the bottoms in a blanc, wash well all the other artichokes removing spare leaves, and add to 4 litres of water with the juice of 2 lemons. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. If you have a cheesecloth cover them with it while cooking. This will give the exposed parts humidity and will prevent them from browning.
- Reserve for next day.
2. Artichoke foam. Next day.
- Remove all the meat from the artichokes including the hearts and leaves.
- Melt the butter and add the onions. Cook at low heat.
- Add the artichokes “meat”. Salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Cook for 5 more minutes, add the cream and turn off the heat.
- We pass this to a bowl where we will add the water and artichoke’s broth.
- Taste for salt and pepper.
- Blend very well.
- Add the agar-agar well dissolved (you have to bring it to a boil).
- Pass over a sieve, very important: the cream should have no solids it can damage the syphon. Add to the syphon of 1/2 litre and 2 loads, shaking it well between each load.
- Place the syphon at ‘bain marie’ 70ºC until ready to serve.
3. Crispy pancetta:
- Cut the pancetta strips in half if they are too thick (longwise).
- Fry it in oil until its very crispy.
- Reserve in the oven and preserve the pan with a little oil. Recycle the rest!
4. Poached eggs:
- In a tall and not too wide skillet bring water to a boil.
- For every litre of water and 1 teaspoon of sal and about 2 tablespoons of vinegar. They will help the whites to coagulate faster.
- Once the water starts boiling reduce the heat a bit so that it is not boiling strongly, otherwise the whites could break.
- First place the egg over a small bowl and slide the egg into the water carefully.
- With a spoon helpp shaping every now and then. Cook for about 4 minutes.
- Once cooked, transfer into cold water. This will stop the egg from cooking and will take away the vinegar.
And now presentation of the plate:
- While the egg is cooking, in the pancetta pan warm the artichoke bottoms.
- Place in a deep plate first (and shaking well) the artichoke foam.
- Over it and in the center, place the artichoke heart and the poached egg on top.
- Serve with the crispy pancetta and some grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Decorate with parsley.