I just finished reading Marcella Hazan's recently released autobiography, "Amacord". We all know Marcella Hazan as the Queen of Italian cooking but when she and her husband, Victor, first moved to the United States, she wasn't much of a cook. As a newlywed in a foreign country, she poured her efforts into learning how to cook so that Victor, who came home for lunch every day from work, would be pleased. Needless to say, over the years she became quite a cook. She started giving small cooking classes out of her apartment and one day she received a call from a reporter at the New York Times. She didn't know who he was. He wanted to come over and interview her, but the times he suggested were always in the middle of the day when Victor came home for lunch, so she just invited the reporter over for lunch one day. The reporter was Craig Claiborne and the lunch Marcella served knocked his socks off. This was back in 1970 and her authentic Italian cooking was anything but the usual spaghetti and meatball fare everyone knew at that time as Italian cuisine. She served a lunch of Roman style artichokes, tortelloni stuffed with swiss chard, prosciutto and ricotta, veal rolls stuffed with parmesan and pancetta, fennel salad and a dessert of marinated orange slices. To this day, she said she doesn't think she could improve on that lunch. It was classic.
These traditional artichokes that Marcella served are common in Rome. Instead of cooking the whole artichoke and biting the flesh off the leaves, the artichokes are trimmed of everything inedible and cooked in herbs and garlic. They are delicious and you can eat the whole thing. They are a little effort up front to trim them, but they are well worth it.
Roman Style Artichokes
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- 4 large globe artichokes with stems attached
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- salt, pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Bend back and snap off tough outer leaves from artichokes, pulling off enough leaves until you expose the central part of the artichoke with whiter leaves at the base. Slice off tops and then squeeze some lemon juice over the cut parts, so they don't turn so brown.
Trim the sides of the artichokes of any tough green parts. Trim the end off stem and then, using the knife, trim the tough green outer part of the stem. Rub with lemon.
Using a paring knife, cut out the hairy choke inside the artichoke
In a bowl, combine the parsley, mint, garlic and salt and pepper. Rub the mixture into the artichokes and over the outsides of the artichokes.
Set the artichokes, topside down with stems facing up, into a pot with a lid. Add oil and enough water to come one third up the sides of the leaves (not the stems).
Cook over medium heat until artichokes are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer artichokes, stems up, to a serving platter, reserving juices. . Let cool to warm or room temperature. To serve, drizzle the pan juices over artichokes.