Roasted Artichokes With Capers, Chevre and Herbed Breadcrumbs

4 globe artichokes, or 10-12 baby artichokes
Juice of 3 lemons
4 T dry breadcrumbs
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 T vegetable oil
2 T capers
3 oz fresh chevre (goat cheese)

First comes the hard part ? cleaning the artichokes. If you?ve never done it before, here?s a quick primer: First cut the lemons in half and squeeze 2 1/2 of them into a large bowl of cool water. Just throw the lemon halves in there too. (Save the last half for later.) Cut artichokes oxidize quickly, so you need the acidulated water to keep them from turning an ugly gray-brown. Next, start peeling leaves off the artichoke until you get down to the tender yellow inside leaves. Use a serrated knife to cut off the top of the artichoke right where the leaves turn from green to yellow. Next, use a peeler or paring knife to remove the fibrous outer layer from the stem and base of the artichoke. Keep peeling until you?re down to the tender, green-yellow flesh. Cut the artichoke in half through the stem. If you?re using large artichokes, you will need to remove the choke, the fuzzy, sharp blossom-to-be at the center of each artichoke. Use a spoon or a small knife to dig out the hairy stuff and any pointy leaves in each half. Baby artichokes may not have developed any choke yet, and should be completely edible once peeled. Cut each half into slices, or quarter baby artichokes, and hold in the lemon water until you?re ready to cook.

Mix together the breadcrumbs and the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. You may need more or less oil depending on exactly the type of breadcrumbs you?re using. When combined, the mixture should look like wet sand. Place in a small skillet and toast the breadcrumbs in your wood oven, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove and allow to cool, then stir in the parsley and thyme. Set aside.

Preheat a large saute pan in your wood oven. You want a pretty hot oven for this preparation. Drain the artichokes, add the vegetable oil to your pan and then add the artichokes. Season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 10-12 minutes.

Squeeze the remaining half lemon into the pan. Stir in the capers and then dot with the goat cheese. Return to the oven and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the cheese has started to melt into the artichokes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.

This dish would be a great accompaniment to lamb, or as part of an antipasti spread. Go get some spring artichokes while you can, and enjoy!

(Source: Forno Bravo Community Cookbook - Roasted Artichokes With Capers, Chevre and Herbed Breadcrumbs)