During the 1970s, the “Queen of Artichokes” in France was a young woman chef named Dominique Versini Nahmias, known simply as Olympe. Recently, while surfing the net, I discovered that Salinas, California, celebrated its first artichoke festival in 1948. And who was the first “artichoke queen” in this country? It was Marilyn Monroe. I don't know whether MM really liked artichokes, but I think if she'd tasted this dish, she would have found it memorable and royal.
Here is Olympe's recipe for a rich, lush ragout of artichoke bottoms cooked in a combination of red and white wine and flavored with orange peel, diced pancetta, and chives. The bottoms are served in the remaining pan juices cooked down to a syrupy sauce, with a dash of olive oil added to make it shine.
What I especially like about Dominique's method of cooking artichokes is that I can leave them to cook slowly by themselves over very low heat, with a crumpled wet piece of parchment paper placed over them, and the pan covered with a tight-fitting lid. As they cook, they slowly soak in the liquid and turn plump, silky, and succulent. Over the years, this method has never let me down.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.