A classic, traditional Spring dish from Crete, Greece that’s simple to make and easier to savour. The season for artichokes is between March and June. For the rest of the year you could use canned or frozen artichokes – but do avoid marinated artichokes – they are a totally different deal and will not go well with what we’re making here. Time now to start cooking, eh?
Cooking time +60 min.
You will need: a bowl and a skillet or pot.
- 1 kg (2 Lbs) baby goat or lamb, chopped into portions. As it is often the case with stews, a shoulder cut is better than others.
- 1 Kg (2 Lbs) artichokes.
- 1/2 bunch dill, diced.
- 1/2 cup (or glass) olive oil.
- 3 fresh onions.
- 1 medium sized dry onion.
- Juice of 1 lemon.
- 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup of hot water. See notes.
- Salt and pepper.
For the Egg and Lemon Sauce
- 2 eggs.
- Juice of 2 lemons.
- 1/2 Tbsp flour.
- Take a medium bowl and fill it up with water.
- Squeeze a lemon in the bowl and dilute the flour in it.
- Peel the artichokes one by one and discard the stems. (Peeling and cleaning artichokes may sound intimidating at first but it’s not that bad. Scroll down to watch the video.)
- Cut the artichokes into halves and put them in the bowl.
- Dice the dry onion.
- Chop the fresh onions into pieces of 1 cm or 1/2 inch.
- Dice the dill.
- Wash the meat in cold, running water.
- Pour the olive oil in a skillet or broad pot.
- Put the skillet or pot on the stove and turn the fire on to medium-high.
- Add the diced dry onion into the skillet or pot and sautee until it’s translucent.
- Add the meat and give it a couple of stirs until it changes colour.
- Add pepper to taste.
- Add the diced fresh onions.
- Add the 1/2 cup of hot water.
- Lower the fire to medium / medium low (depending on your stove) and let the meat simmer, covered, for about 30-40 minutes. The point here is to retain the steam in the skillet/pot while the meat is cooking gently.
- 30 to 40 minutes later, test the meat with a fork. If it falls off the fork then it’s ready for the next stage. If not, add a little hot water as needed and keep simmering until ready.
- Add 1/3 cup of hot water.
- Add the artichokes into the mix.
- Add salt to taste.
- Wait for 2-3 minutes and add the dill.
- Let the mix simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the artichokes are cooked. (You don’t want the artichokes “crunchy”. You want them “cooked”.)
- At this stage you pour into the mixture the egg and lemon sauce.
- Shake well so that the egg and lemon sauce spreads evenly in the skillet or pot.
Egg and lemon sauce
- Crack the eggs in a small bowl.
- Add the juice of your 2 lemons and beat the mixture well.
- While you beat the eggs, little by little keep adding a little juice from the skillet or pot until the bowl is almost full with liquid.
- Shaken, not stirred – as good old James Bond might have insisted: after you add the artichokes into the skillet or pot do avoid stirring with a ladle or spoon or you run into the risk of having the artichokes disintegrated. Shaking the skillet or pot will work just fine.
- Keep adding hot water to the skillet/pot little by little as needed, if needed. The idea is that the mixture should not be cooking in sizzling olive oil – there should always be some hot water in that mix.
- Goat meat, although very lean, is a bit tougher than lamb. If you’re cooking goat then add more hot water into the skillet/pot and simmer longer than you would have with lamb.
- Add salt only towards the end, before you mix in the artichokes, otherwise the meat will dry out while cooking and will not be as soft.
- Wash the meat thoroughly, until there’s no blood in it. A few words about how to prepare lamb or goat for cooking, here.
Health benefits of artichokes
A few words about the health benefits of artichokes (such as potential anticancer effects, improved heart health, regulated blood pressure etc) you will find here and here .
How to peel artichokes