Once a year it's worth the effort to de-choke a bunch of beautiful artichokes and slow-cook them with aromatics until they have absorbed every atom of flavor. This method is sometimes referred to as "barigoule" - this refers to the species of milk cap (Lactarius deliciosus) that was often included in the dish.
Pancetta's slight funk gives a surprising depth of flavor to the tangy sauce.
This is perfect picnic food, served at room temperature.
Cut the stems of the artichokes to about 1 inch below the base. Cut off the artichoke tops just above the heart, then snap off three or four rows of leaves from the base. Peel all the green from the artichoke bottoms and stems.
As you work, place the prepped hearts in a bowl of cold water acidulated with the lemon's juice (your fingers will become stained from peeling, so consider gloves.)
Spread open the remaining pale inner leaves of each artichoke, and use a small spoon or melon baller to remove the fluffy choke and tiny, sharp-pointed inner leaves. Return to the acidulated water.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan and add the pancetta.
After a couple of minutes add the onion, carrot and the garlic. Cook until the onion begins to turn golden, and the carrots caramelize slightly
Add the artichokes, stem side up.
Add the thyme, bay, salt and pepper.
Pour the wine over the vegetables and add enough water to barely cover the artichoke bottoms. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 30-40 minutes, or until the hearts are tender when pierced.
Remove the lid and reduce the cooking liquid over high heat to concentrate the flavor.
Taste - very important. Correct seasoning and add a splash of lemon juice.
Serve warm over buttered basmati for dinner, or cool for a summer picnic, with bread to mop the plate clean.