Artichokes alla Romana


Artichokes alla Romana

Artichokes alla Romana

This is one I like to make whenever I find reasonably priced artichokes.  If you’ve seen some of the outrageously priced artichokes the stores try to sell, you know what I mean.  $4-5 per?  I don’t think so.  If you have a Trader Joe’s near you they usually have reasonably priced artichokes, the small ones or the large ones.  For this dish I use the large ones as they work best.  If you’re looking for artichokes you dip in mayonnaise, this isn’t it.  I’m not snobby, just partial to the style of cooking I grew up with – which did not include much mayonnaise.I use one large artichoke per person.  Because of the size it’s hard to fit more than 4 or 5 in a pan so I make this as a side dish.

Prepare the artichokes by pulling off the toughest outer leaves, usually a layer or so, and cut off about a quarter or a third of the top of the leaves to cut off all the sharp tips.  The top of the artichoke needs to be flat so you can lay them upside down on the bottom of the pan.  You can use scissors to trim off the sharp tips of the shorter leaves.  I use a vegetable peeler to peel the stems, and cut off just the very end which is usually dark and a little dry.  Do not throw the waste into the garbage disposal in your sink as you will regret it.Slice about a clove of garlic per artichoke and a handful of Italian parsley (flat or curly – doesn’t matter).  Now for the work.

Take each artichoke by the stem, and press it down against the cutting board to spread out the leaves a little.  If the leaves are pretty thick I sort of slam the choke down on the board to get the job done.  Then stuff the garlic slices and parsley between the leaves, pushing them in so it doesn’t all come falling out when you flip them over to put them in the pan.  Salt to taste and rub it in well.

Heat up a deep pan or pot – deep enough to cover the artichokes standing up and not enough room for the chokes to fall over – on the stove a little over medium heat (6 or 7 on my stove), and put in about 1/3 cup of olive oil.  How much olive oil exactly depends on the width of your pan, but you want the artichoke to sit in about 1/4″ deep.  Put the artichokes in the pan upside down and let them brown for 30 seconds to a minute.  Add a 1/2 cup or so white wine, and enough water to almost cover the artichokes, about 3/4″ – 1″ before the stem.   I like to sprinkle a pinch or two of salt over the outer leaves and stem too for a little more flavor.  Bring it all up to a boil, then reduce and simmer covered for about 45 minutes to an hour, adding some water if necessary.

When done the water should be reduced by half or more, but the pan should never get dry. Remove from pan and plate.  Spoon some of the pan juices over each artichoke.  To eat simply pluck the leaves off one at a time and, using your front teeth, scrape the meat from the bottom third or so of the leaf while sucking on it.  When you get down to the middle you might want to discard the very small soft leaves, or suck on the juices then discard them.  Not very graceful I’m sure but so good.  Just don’t let the juices run down to your elbows.  To eat the heart, cut off the beard (the hairy stuff) and eat the heart and the stem.

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