Monday, July 16, 2012

Aunt Alice's Artichokes

I have to say that the ingredients and cooking method are very similar to mine (and my mother's). We call it Roman style, possibly because both my Mum and my Aunt learned to make this in Rome (and I learned from them). But there are two main differences between my usual recipe which I always make in New Zealand (recipe here) and this one, simply due to ... availability!!! In NZ artichokes are still rare and quite expensive, so when I get a few I cook them with all the hard outer leaves (to be scraped with teeth at the table until you reach the heart) while here in Italy artichokes abound and so we can discard the outer leaves and cook only the tender hearts. 

The other difference is that while I cooked the whole artichokes "flower side up", the artichokes hearts with stalks are cooked "flower side down", and in this way you can leave a bit of the stalk in too, they are yummy and tender!

All you need to do is to:

Clean very well the artichokes discarding all the hard outer leaves. Also peel the stalks and keep up to 5 cm attached to the floret. As soon as one artichoke is cleaned drop it immediately in a bowl full of water and lemon juice or lemon slices. Keep the artichokes in the lemon water until cooking time. 

Finely chopped Italian parsley with garlic and salt, and then use this mixture to fill the centre of the artichokes (so far the recipe is like for the these artichokes) but then place the artichokes upside down into the pot (like in the photos, I only turned one up to show you what the inside would look like at the end of cooking), add a little extra virgin olive oil, a few more slices of garlic (if you like), another  pinch of salt, and a couple of fingers of water. Place on the stove on low, cover with a lid and simmer for about two hours, adding water from time to time, if needed.

Now there is one last thing to be said here: Aunt Alice had a wood fire stove (stufa, a bit like an Aga, I should remember to take a photo sometimes!) and in this way you can cook the artichokes (and many other dishes) really slowly, all they long... so the ones that she makes always have a special taste. Plus she has the patience to clean over 15 artichokes!

Photos and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini and Aunt Alice ©

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