Artichoke Bottoms Stuffed with Oeufs Mollets

Preparation info

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

I collect cookbooks in all languages. (As for how I'm going to read them, I worry about that afterward!) Some years ago, I bought a midcentury French cookbook at a secondhand bookstore in Bordeaux. It was larded with clippings, recipes from old newspapers. One, dated 1948, was this recipe for artichoke bottoms stuffed with eggs, cooked so that the yolks are runny and the whites completely surrounding them are firm, topped with a flowing mayonnaise scented with tarragon and dotted with capers. The writer described it as “exquisite for summer.” Here is my version. It makes a marvelous lunch or brunch dish or a substantial first course.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt
  • 4 globe artichokes
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons small Spanish capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Bring the eggs to room temperature. Meanwhile, combine 1 quart water, ⅓ cup of the olive oil, all the parsley, and 1 tablespoon coarse salt in a deep saucepan. Slowly heat to simmering.
  2. One at a time, clean the artichokes: Break off the stem and trim to make a flat bottom. Switch to a melon bailer to scoop out the choke, then scrape along the inside walls of the vegetable. Remove the hard leaves by snapping them back, trimming the leaves straight across, then smoothing out the whole bottom with a small knife. Drop into the simmering water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Cover and simmer until the artichoke bottoms are almost tender. Remove the pan from the heat; let the artichokes finish cooking in the receding heat.
  3. Prepare the mayonnaise dressing. Thin the mayonnaise with milk, stirring until smooth. Add the capers and tarragon and let stand until ready to serve. Taste for salt and pepper.
  4. Make the oeufs mollets as directed.
  5. To serve, gently reheat the artichoke bottoms in the cooking liquid; drain. Pat the artichokes dry with paper towels. Place each one on an individual serving plate and season with salt and pepper. Reheat the eggs for an instant in hot water, remove the shells or the plastic wrappings, and place 1 egg in each artichoke hollow. Spoon some of the mayonnaise on top of each egg. Serve at once.