This recipe, in my view, is one that epitomises the character of Italian cooking: total simplicity and tastiness!
Artichokes are good, healthy and versatile as an ingredient; you can fry them, stuff them, use them to top pizzas, cook them in the oven together with lamb and potatoes or, as I do, cook them with panchetta. In Emiglia Romagna region of Italy I saw people cooking artichokes, including the stalk, without making any fuss about how fibrous it could be! When preparing artichokes, there is a lot of wastage because usually you eat only the heart of the artichokes, but in the old times nothing was wasted, even the leaves were boiled and eaten as Italians do with "pinzimonio" (raw vegetables dipped in olive oil). I like to use everything from the artichoke, especially when I pay the £ 1.50 per head; and also beacuse I strive for honest home cooking, and economy still matters!
SERVES 6 AS STARTER or 3 AS MAIN COURSE
Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):
Nutrition facts: Calories 650 per serving.
Ingredients (U.S. measurements):
When cutting the artichokes during their preparation, they change colour quickly, becoming darker. You can limit this effect by putting them in a bowl of acidulated water after preparation. Take a large bowl of water and sqeeze a lemon in it.
With a paring knife remove the outer part of the stalk, the most fibrous one.
Cut the stalk as shown in the picture, leaving a couple of centimetres of stalk attached to the artichoke.
Peel the outer leaves away starting from the base of the artichoke. As I said in the introduction, you can use the leaves for making "pinzimonio".
Remove the outer leaves until the soft core (the heart) at the base is exposed and then cut the artichoke as shown in the picture.
We have not finished yet! Now, we need to get rid of the central filaments.
With a dessert spoon, preferably one with sharp edges, scoop the filaments out. At the same time scrape with the spoon around the inner wall created so that you are sure no filament stay in place.
Then, with a paring knife remove the last leaves at the bottom, around the little stalk you left attached.
Finally, with a paring knife cut the last leaves that you may have on the perimeter of the artichokes heart.
One by one, put the prepared artichoke hearts in the large bowl containing acidulated water and leave them until you are ready to cook them.
Meanwhile, during the preparation of the artichoke hearts, you can boil the stalks, chopped in rounds. Boil them for 10-15 minutes.
After 10-15 minutes boiling, drain the stalks and let them dry over kitchen paper. You will use them later.
Here, for simplicity, I am showing only three artichokes, but you can cook all six together, if you wish. Add the olive oil into the pan and heat it over medium heat. Then, add the artichokes, heads down, and sweat them off for about 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes add the pancetta and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
Now, add the stalk rounds you have previously boiled and sweat them off as well in the hot olive oil (at this stage the oil will also contain part of the pancetta fat).
Cook for about 5 minutes, turning the artichokes for a while and then putting them again with the head down.
After 5 minutes, add the wine and let the alcohol to evaporate for a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile season with salt.
Season with pepper.
Then, cover the pan with a lid and cook on gentle heat for 15-20 minutes.
This is what you get at the end. I suggest eating the artichokes (one or two is up to you) with some crusty rustic bread. About the wine, I personally do not drink wine with artichokes because I believe it's a waste (artichokes change the taste of the wine), so my suggestion is to keep your good wine for another occasion.
Federico Pezzaioli is an ex-badass Italian Paratrooper on a mission - to make creating delicious authentic Italian food really easy. He researches, writes and photographs each recipe with the same attention to detail he used to apply to packing his parachute.
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