Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Carciofi alla Romana (Braised Artichoke Roman Style)

Artichokes are back in season! And there are so many ways to use it in the kitchen. Although they could seem intimidating for some home cooks they are easy to prepare. The only tricky part, is the initial cleaning. Once you remove the tougher outer petals and the inedible hairy inner core you have in hands a very valuable ingredient that can be braised, roasted, fried or sautéd to use it in many dishes.

When buying artichokes, choose the ones with compact center leaves. They should feel heavy for their size and have a bright healthy color. If you are lucky to find artichokes with white blisters on their petals, get them. They are also known as “Frost-Kissed” artichokes because their appearance is the result of exposure to colder temperatures and frost.  Although they are not as pretty as other artichokes they are particularly tender and flavorful.

Braising artichokes Roman-style is exquisite. I like to soak rustic bread in the braising liquid. Here the recipe.

Carciofi alla Romana 
  • 3 artichokes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • A half bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of mint, finely minced
  • Dry white wine
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil

Trim the artichoke of its hard outer petals and choke. Peel the stem and cut the top. After you are through cleaning, immediately drop the artichoke into a large bowl of water with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Process the garlic, parsley, mint and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Heat a braising pot with two tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the artichokes slightly and then stand them up, stems upward. Add a generous amount of olive oil, the parsley mixture and then enough wine to come halfway up the artichokes (not counting the stem).

Cover the pot and let the artichokes simmer for about 40 minutes. Check for doneness with a knife; they should be tender.

Allow the artichokes to cool before serving, moistened with a bit of the liquid. I love to soak bread in the braising liquid.