Carciofi alla Romana (Artichokes Roman-style)

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Chef: as heard on Afternoons Saturday 8 November 2008

Tags: starter, Italian, artichoke

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 large artichokes, with stems attached
  • Juice of 1 lemon mixed with 2 litres water
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Method

1. Prepare artichokes as described for stuffing.

2. In a bowl mix garlic, mint, salt, black pepper and parsley. Set aside one third of this mixture and press the rest into the cavities of the artichokes.

3. Choose a heavy-based casserole just large enough to contain the artichokes. Put them in the casserole with stems pointing up. Smear the rest of the herb mixture over the outside of the artichokes. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over stems and add enough water to come about one third of the way up the leaves. Cover casserole with a lid then cook artichokes over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced by a skewer; check regularly and don't overcook.

4. Transfer artichokes to a serving dish, arranging them with the stems up. If the juices in the pan are on the thin side, reduce them over a high heat until an emulsion forms, then pour over the artichokes. Serve hottish, warm or at room temperature, with crusty bread.

How to eat Carciofi alla Romana?
Start by peeling off the leaves and nibbling on the morsel of tender flesh at the base of each leaf (the rest of the leaf is discarded as it is too fibrous to eat). Carry on until you get to the more tender leaves, which can be eaten whole. Then you'll be left with the stem attached to the heart. It's easier to eat this with a knife and fork.

Provide bowls for discarded leaves and finger bowls of warm water with a slice of lemon to wash fingers.