Six if you are also serving other stuffed vegetables or using the artichokes as a garnish, for instance, for a roast joint or grilled veal
6artichokes, preferably the small purplish ones, weighing about 200 g (7 oz) each
300g (10½oz) leaf spinach
6anchovy fillets preserved in olive oil
50g (1¾oz) diced cooked ham
30g (1oz) butter
Bring 5litres (9pints) water to the boil with 4tablespoons coarse salt. Meanwhile, wash the artichokes and remove the stalks. When the water comes to the boil, plunge in the artichokes and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. To avoid overcooking test them after 35 minutes and again after 40 by removing one of the inner leaves. If it comes away easily, they are cooked. Refresh in cold water and put to drain, upside-down so that the water can run out.
While the artichokes are cooking, wash and pick over the spinach, wash it thoroughly in several waters and drain in a colander. Put 20g (¾oz) of the butter to melt in a medium-sized saucepan, and when it just starts to brown throw in the well-drained spinach. Stir over a brisk heat until all the liquid is evaporated, which takes about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave it in the hot pan to keep warm. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4.
Put the cream and egg yolk into a bowl and whisk them together thoroughly. Put half the remaining butter in a small frying-pan and melt the anchovies in it (this will take about 2 minutes) crushing them lightly with a fork. Add them to the cream in the bowl and stir. Return the pan containing the spinach to the heat and pour in the contents of the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until the cream has bound the spinach. Take the pan off the heat, add the ham, cut into tiny dice, and season with salt and pepper.
Remove the leaves and chokes of the artichokes and arrange the hearts on a gratin dish buttered with the remaining butter. Pile the spinach mixture on to them, pressing it with a fork.
Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes.
Young fresh red wines (Provence, Beaujolais, Bourgueil)