Artichoke a la barigoule

Don’t worry, this blurb is neither about how to cook a cuckoo nor a crazy technique… By cuckoo, I refer here to an old traditional recipe where the original ingredient that gave its name to the recipe disappeared and had been totally substituted by a totally different ingredient. A case of culinary brood parasitism then!
Here is the story of the barigoule.
Artichokes in barigoule (artichauts barigoule / en barigoule / à la barigoule, as one can find all of those, or simply barigoule as it now refers exclusively to this artichoke dish) is a delicious specialty from Provence, in the South-East of France. As per its name, it is made with artichokes… except that it has not always been the case. Before describing the recipe, it is amusing to follow the evolution of the term barigoule itself. Barigoule is in fact the name given locally in Provence to a mushroom, the lactarius deliciosus, aka red pine mushroom. Those mushrooms used to be cooked in a certain way, simmered in a liquid, broth and/or wine with some other vegetables. I don't know which ones, but it is very likely that most of those were the same as those found in the current recipe as well as in many other Provençale stew recipes. Given that the mushroom is picked up in Fall while the baby artichokes used for the recipe are harvested twice a year, in Spring and in Summer, and that the mushroom and the trimmed artichoke have a similar shape, one can easily understand why the latter eventually replaced the former, seasonally first, then permanently. Another version, which doesn’t exclude the first one, is that the term was employed to describe a recipe of artichokes stuffed with barigoule mushrooms, and by extension with any mushrooms, before the recipe abandoned the mushrooms and refers now to an artichoke-only recipe.
Well, artichoke-only is not exact since, as mentioned above, it involves other ingredients. First thing, of course, the artichokes. Those normally used are the local Provençal artichokes named poivrade, referring to purple artichokes harvested at an early stage, and so tender as they can be eaten raw, with just salt and pepper (poivre in French, hence the name given to those baby artichokes). Of course, I didn't find some in Ohio, but we sometimes get baby artichokes from California that are quite similar to the poivrade from Provence. Other ingredients are those that are frequently used in a broth or a stew, for instance onions, shallots, garlic, carrots, celery, fennel, tomatoes, as well as, optionally or depending on the recipe, lardons, i.e. slab bacon dices. Plus, wine and/or a vegetable or chicken broth to stew all those flavors together.
This dish is easy to prepare, with one exception: Preparing the artichoke. This is the main and only difficulty of this dish; hence the red square below, but it will turn orange and finally green over time. Honestly, I am not a trained cook at all, and after a couple of tries, my outcome is, in my humble opinion and as you can see on the picture, rather decent. More than dexterity or skill, you need patience. And as this is not my first quality, everything is possible, you see!!! The “game” consists in turning the artichokes, cutting the pointed head, trimming the green parts, peeling the stingy stem, removing the choke, without forgetting to rub them with lemon juice before keeping them in lemony water at the end (see detailed explanation below, in the recipe part).
You can serve the artichokes in barigoule as such, as a starter, or as a side with seared tuna fish steak (as featured here, also with some grilled chanterelles as a personal reminder to the origin of the dish), grilled chicken, BBQed bronzino or snapper… Test and taste it. I guarantee you that you will love it so much as you will not care for the turning process, all the more so as, after a couple of tries, you will master it quasi-perfectly.

Levels of difficulty
30 minutes
40 minutes

Ingredients 2 servings
as a side or a starter

§  4 to 6 baby artichokes depending on their size (have in mind that, after trimming, the artichoke volume will be 1/3 of its original one)
§  ½ cup of onion chopped in small brunoise (2 to 3 mm dices)
§  ½ cup of carrot chopped in small brunoise
§  ½ cup of celery chopped in small brunoise
§  ½ cup of fennel chopped in small brunoise (optional)
§  ½ cup of seeded tomato chopped in small brunoise
§  2 (or more if you like them) cloves of garlic
§  herbs (bay leaves, thyme, sage, basil, rosemary…)
§  bacon lardons (optional)
§  green/black olives, chopped (optional)
§  1 organic lemon half cut in small wedges or dices (optional)
§  1 lemon half to prevent the artichoke oxidation
§  2 tbsp. of olive oil
§  1/2 glass of white wine (or vegetable/chicken broth, or even water as there are already plenty of flavors in your dish)
§  salt (to use moderately if you include olives and bacon) and pepper (or piment d’Espelette)

1.     Preparing the artichokes
§  "Turn" the artichokes, i.e. eliminate the layers of tough purple and/or dark green leaves till reaching the pale green/yellow ones. The little trick here is to twist by 90 degrees each leave, before pulling it, in order to keep as much “meat” on the artichoke,
§  Cut the pointed head of the artichoke, where the leaves are tougher. The amount to remove needs to be adjusted depending on the size of the artichoke, but if you cut it at around 1” from its base (the heart top), either the artichoke is small or big, you should be good,   
§  Trim all the remaining tough green parts with a sharp knife,
§  Remove the stringy outside part of the stem, with a knife or, better, with a vegetable peeler
§  And, at last, remove the choke, if any (you may not need to do that with young artichokes). A melon baller (the small one) will be perfect for the job, otherwise a classical teaspoon will do it.
§  Don’t forget during the whole process to rub regularly the artichokes with lemon juice to avoid their oxidation, and at the end to soak them in lemony water.
§  Last point, don’t pitch the leaves and trims. First, the base of the raw leaves is delicious. Just dip it in salt and pepper (you remember, the poivrade) and bite into it to get the nut-tasting pulp. And use the whole to make a flavorful artichoke broth that will make a superb risotto.

2.     Cooking the barigoule
§  Use a pan or a cast iron skillet with a lid
§  Heat the olive oil and add the herbs over medium high (6/7)
§  If you use bacon, add the lardons and let them become translucent
§  Dispose the artichoke standing up on their cut side in the pan and let them color for a few minutes like that, before removing them and reserving them
§  Put the onions and let them sweat for a few minutes over medium low (4)
§  Then, add progressively (waiting 2 or 3 minutes between each vegetable) the other vegetable brunoises, by decreasing order of firmness, i.e., first the carrots, then, the celery, the fennel, to end up with the tomatoes
§  Add the wine or the broth, and season moderately
§  In case if, put the chopped olives and lemon pieces
§  When the liquid is boiling, place again the artichokes, standing up again, and cover with the lid
§  Let simmer on low medium (2/3) for around 40 minutes or till the artichokes are tender but still a bit firm (use a knife to test it)
§  Remove and reserve the artichokes
§  If need be, reduce a bit the sauce and adjust the seasonings
§  Serve with a Rosé de Provence or a white Château de Bellet (Nice area).

The artichokes, "turned" and trimmed
Cooking phase
Artichoke barigoule and sautéed chicken

The original barigoule, i.e. the lactarius deliciosus 


  1. This looks and sounds yummy, Patrick. I love artichokes... when someone else makes them. I don't have your patience with the darn things, so I'm doubly impressed with this dish!

  2. Thank you Carol. This is funny that you say that, because Ardis and all those who know would tell you that patience is not one my forte at all!!! But it is true that when cooking, I "force" my deep me, so to say ;)


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