Here’s a classic brunch recipe, courtesy of B.C. Egg, that originates in Louisiana creole cusine of New Orleans.
This dish combines poached eggs with artichoke bottoms and creamed spinach, all topped with Hollandaise sauce.
8 large eggs
8 medium artichoke bottoms (see recipe note for fresh vs. frozen vs. canned)
Creamed spinach and artichoke
350 g spinach (12 to 13 oz)
85 g chopped artichoke (3 oz; ~1/2 cup) (see recipe note for fresh vs. frozen)
60 g butter (4 tbsp) separated into 1 and 3 tbsp portions
40 g onion minced (1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic minced
65 g flour (1/2 cup)
350 ml milk (1.5 cups) preferably whole-fat
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
pinch pepper to taste
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (optional)
dash Tabasco sauce or other similar hot sauce
1/2 cup butter (8 tbsp/1 stick/113 grams)
Eggs and artichoke prep
Poach eggs to just below desired level of doneness, then set aside in ice bath (alternatively, cook at the end).
Reheat in warm water along with artichoke bottoms later—about 45 seconds to 1 minute (see serving information below). For tips on the perfect poach, click here.
Artichoke Preparation (see notes below for tips on fresh versus frozen)
If you’re using frozen artichoke bottoms:
Allow them to come to room temperature or warm them up a bit in a warm-water bath.
Chop enough artichoke bottoms to yield 85 g (about 1/2 cup) for the next step, but ensure that you have enough left to serve all of the eggs on.
If you’re using fresh artichokes:
Prepare a medium saucepan by filling it with about 1 liter of water, along about 1 tbsp lemon juice and a little olive oil.
Prepare artichokes by removing and peeling the stalks, trimming away the coarse outer leaves, slicing off the tender upper portion, and scooping out the choke. Don’t go crazy trying to get the choke out; the last bits of it may be easier to get out after cooking.
Add trimmed artichoke bottoms, stalks, and tender leaves to a saucepan with water, lemon juice, and olive oil. Be sure to add each one as you finish trimming, as the lemony water will keep the artichokes from browning.
Simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to cold or icy water.
Remove remaining choke. Set aside the artichoke bottoms and use the cooked stalks (cut the stalks in half to scoop out the non-fibrous portion) and leaves for the creamed spinach.
Creamed spinach and artichoke
Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil.
Cook the spinach for about 2 minutes, then drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Chop the spinach and drain the water again, squeezing to get as much moisture out as possible.
Set aside with chopped artichokes.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
Sauté the onions and garlic in butter until the onions are translucent but not browned, for about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add flour to the pan, mix and cook for about 2 minutes.
The resulting roux may be very thick, but this is ok. Do your best to spread it around the pan and keep the heat low enough to avoid scorching the roux.
Add milk, cook on low temp for about 5 minutes. Do not boil!
Stir in spinach, artichoke, spices, and cream. Set aside but keep warm.
Blender or immersion blender method:
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Keep warm.
Combine remaining ingredients in a small blender or food processor, or in a container that fits the head of an immersion blender (I prefer the immersion blender).
Blend ingredients together. While blending, slowly pour in butter, a little at a time. Once entirely combined, adjust to taste with salt or lemon juice if needed.
Use as soon as possible.
This is the traditional method. It takes a bit longer, but it’s still fairly easy as long as you don’t mind whisking.
Place all of the ingredients except the butter in a small bowl and whisk until airy and well-combined.
Set up a double boiler (or small glass/stainless steel bowl floating in a pot of water on the stove).
Heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the colour becomes paler yellow, increases in volume, and thickens somewhat.
Remove from heat, and slowly whisk in the melted butter until the whole thing is smooth, well-combined, and thick.
Bring a pot of water to a low simmer.
Heat up the artichoke bottoms in the simmering water, and finish the eggs (about 1 minute).
On a warmed plate, serve creamed spinach topped with an artichoke bottom and a poached egg. Top with Hollandaise and garnish of your choice (e.g. a bit of Tabasco sauce, some paprika, and/or fried tomato skins).
Notes on fresh versus frozen versus canned artichokes
Fresh artichokes are the best way to go with this recipe, as they give you the most distinctive and delicate flavour, and they let you prepare the artichoke in a way that maximizes the yield for this particular recipe.
Frozen bottoms are a close second choice, and they definitely take a lot of work out of the process, so don’t be afraid to use these instead.
Canned artichoke bottoms can be great, but they would be my third choice in this recipe as they bring a briny character and different taste to the dish.
As mentioned above, bowl-like artichoke bottoms are ideal in any case, but you can use halved or quartered hearts if that’s all you have—just make a nest out of the creamed spinach and nestle some artichokes and the poached egg in there.