Carciofi alla Fiesolana (Braised Artichokes)

Artichokes, along with beets and mushrooms represent for me a moment of growth for my palate. I still remember clearly (you know those memories you cannot shake off) my parents trying to force me to eat those tough raw green leaves when I was a kid: they could not convince me, no matter the effort. There are many flavors you get to enjoy in life, only after you have developed a sense, an affinity for them.  I tried to convince both my daughters that Artichoke Leaves in”Pinzimonio” (eating raw vegetables dipped in evo, salt and pepper) are really good for them, and I told them of how Tuscan and traditional the whole “experience” is. They just looked at me sideways and move on.

So I moved to “plan B”, and I created a recipe that is in between the traditional “Carciofi alla Romana”, which are lightly stuffed with herbs, and a recipe I picked up at Angelini Osteria a few months back, while spending some time on the line with Maestro Gino.

Now my daughters are in heaven every time I serve this dish. Now they force me to leave a few artichokes in the pan whenever I cook them this way: “So tomorrow you can make us a pasta sauce with it!”. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTI

Prep Time: 20 min / Cook Time: 40 - 50 min / Serves:4

20 Baby Artichokes
1/3 lb Guanciale or Pancetta
1 Red Onion
1 Cup Vegetable Broth
1 Handful Parsley
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1

Fill a large bowl with tap water and pour the juice of one lemon in it.

2

Remove the outer leaves of the artichoke uncovering the more light pale green heart. Use a potato peeler to shave the stem of the artichoke, cut the excess stem with scissors or with a pairing knife.

3

As you proceed place the cleaned artichokes in the citrus water to prevent them from oxidizing and spotting the leaves with dark brown dots.

4

Warm the vegetable broth in a skillet or in the microwave.

5

Chop the Guanciale in small cubes, about ¼”.

6

In a large non-stick pan heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil on a medium-high, add the guanciale and sauté for about 10 minutes. Stir often and make sure it gets golden and crisp.

7

Dice the onion very fine and add to the pan, lower the fire to a medium and cook for about five minutes until soft and translucent.

8

Lower the fire to a simmer, and one at the time place the artichoke hearts, head down, on top of the soffritto.

9

Add a ladle of warm vegetable broth and cover with a lid; slow cook is the secret for this recipe.

10

Cook for about 40-50 minutes, adding a ladle of broth when necessary (1 cup is just an indication, you might need less) and gently shaking the pan to move the artichokes and prevent them from sticking.

11

Artichokes will be ready when they feel very soft to the touch; be careful as they are very delicate at the end and they might fall apart when being handled.

12

Chop the parsley very fine and sprinkle it on the chokes before serving. Always serve warm, never hot!

Serve with a slice of toasted bread with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a glass of red wine; this is how I enjoy it!