Here, artichokes are steamed until tender, then baked with a stuffing made from pancetta and crisp panko (Japanese bread crumbs). The result: a beautiful starter or side dish with a wonderful contrast of textures.
1 lemon, halved
1 Tbs. peppercorns
5 garlic cloves, 3 smashed and 2 finely chopped
4 globe artichokes
4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 oz. (90 g) pancetta, finely chopped
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) panko
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C).
Fill a large pot with 2 inches (5 cm) of water. Add one of the lemon halves, the peppercorns and smashed garlic cloves to the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim the stem even with the artichoke bottom. Snap off the small, tough leaves around the base of the artichoke. Cut off the top third of the artichoke; then, using kitchen shears, trim off any remaining thorny leaf tips. Gently pry the center leaves open and, using a small spoon, scoop out the prickly choke and discard. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Rub the cut surfaces of each artichoke with the remaining lemon half as you trim them to prevent the artichoke from darkening.
Add the artichokes to the boiling water, using artichoke steamer inserts to hold them upright if desired, and cover the pot. Steam the artichokes until a knife easily pierces the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the artichokes are steaming, make the stuffing. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Sauté the onion until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and continue cooking 30 seconds more.
Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl and add the pancetta, pine nuts, panko, parsley, Parmesan and the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Toss to combine.
When the artichokes are tender, remove from the pot. Gently spread open the center and the rows of leaves of an artichoke and push a little of the stuffing mixture between them. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Place the stuffed artichokes, stem side down, in a baking dish and bake until the stuffing has browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.