Roman-style artichokes

May 14, 2009 5:44:33 PM PDT
The secret to seasoning artichokes perfectly.

Carciofi alla Romana
Roman-style artichokes

By Deborah Dal Fovo
4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 large globe artichokes, with minimum 3-inch or longer stems attached
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley/3 teaspoons finely chopped
  • 8 fresh mint leaves/1 teaspoon finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
NOTE: Roman Style Artichokes are cooked and served upside down with stems pointing upward. Like all Italian artichoke dishes, the trimmed tender stems are eaten along with the artichoke globe, so take care not to cut or snap off the stems during the trimming process. Trimming the artichokes is the most time-consuming part of this recipe, but the impressive presentation and incomparable flavor make it well worth the time taken to properly prep the artichokes before cooking.

Process:

  1. In a small bowl mix the finely chopped garlic, parsley and mint with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and set aside.

  2. Halve the lemon and keep close at hand while you are trimming the artichokes in the following manner: Hold an artichoke in your left hand with the stem pointing down. Starting at the base of the globe, use your other hand to bend the tough outer leaves back and snap off where they break naturally, leaving the inner white leaves. This process removes the outer dark green tip of the leaf, which is tough and inedible, leaving the tender light green base attached to the globe. Working your way around and upward in a spiral direction, trim the outside of the artichoke globe until no dark green areas remain. As you make your way up the artichoke, the white leaf base will increase in size and there will be less to discard. When you reach the top of the globe there will be a central cone of long white leaves about 1 ½ inches high with green tips. Using a knife, diagonally slice off about 1 inch off the top of the leaves, eliminating all the green and leaving a flat surface to the artichoke. Look into the center of the artichoke and carefully cut away the small prickly leaves inside with a small spoon or knife then scrape away the entire fuzzy, fibrous choke underneath without damaging the artichoke heart it is attached to. Quickly rub all the trimmed surfaces and inside cavity of the artichoke with the lemon half to prevent discoloration.

  3. Now trim the stem of the artichoke by turning it upside down and snipping off the very tip with a paring knife. Using your knife, peel away the green outer layer of the stem carefully to reveal a white core. Also trim any remaining green from the bottom of the artichoke. Rub the stem with the lemon half.

  4. When all artichokes are trimmed in this manner, begin to fill them. Divide the salt and herb mixture in 4 portions and, using your hand, use one quarter of this mixture for each artichoke. Press it into the walls of the center cavity of each artichoke and then rub all the mixture around the outsides and stem.

  5. Place the filled artichokes face down with stems pointing up in a heavy bottomed (earthenware, if possible) pan with a tight fitting lid large enough to comfortably hold the artichokes and tall enough for their stems. Pour the oil and water into the bottom of the pan and season contents with more salt and pepper. Dampen paper towels or a clean tea towel large enough to cover the top of the pan with water. Drape this over the pan and tightly fit the lid over the towel. Turn back towel ends up over the lid to avoid burning. Cook artichokes at medium heat for 30-35 minutes or until tender. Test by inserting the point of a knife easily into the base of the stem.

  6. Transfer artichokes face down, stems up to serving dish/es. Pour remaining cooking liquid over each one equally. Serve warm or at room temperature.
About Deborah Dal Fovo:
An accomplished Chef and authority on the fine art of Italian living, Deborah Dal Fovo mastered her culinary education in Italian food and wine hands-on from some of Italy's finest and most renowned chefs, winemakers and food producers. Her formal culinary studies include classic training at French Master Chef Roger Vergé's legendary cooking school in Mougins, France.

Deborah's love of food and cooking began at home in her Northern Italian-American household inspiring her to return to Italy where she lived in both Milan and Tuscany for 20 years while traveling extensively throughout Italy cultivating the country's diverse regional flavors and culinary traditions.

A dual citizen of Italy and the United States, Deborah now lives primarily in Northern California and shares her vast Italian experience with the U.S. as a Private Chef, Cooking Instructor, Italian Lifestyle expert and an enthusiastic Italian ambassador of good taste.

Deborah Dal Fovo currently teaches authentic Italian Cooking classes at Draegers, Ramekins, Relish, Sur la Table, and VIVA cooking schools and at her own private classes in San Francisco and Marin County.


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