Easy Roman Braised Artichoke Hearts

Easy Roman Braised Artichoke Hearts

Easy Roman Braised Artichoke Hearts

There are many reasons not to cook artichokes out of season, the least obvious of which is that they can spontaneously combust. I’m not joking. I was trimming some leathery artichokes a few months ago, in the middle of summer, and they began to catch fire from the friction of the blade as I sliced through the dry, woody leaves.

Artichokes that suddenly ignite might be a sign that I shouldn’t be publishing a recipe for them in October, but thanks to California’s climate, you can usually get fresh artichokes this time of year, even though spring is when they’re most abundant. Given this brief window of opportunity, I couldn’t resist sharing the classic recipe for carciofi alla romana (Roman braised artichokes).

Artichokes play an important role in Italian cooking. The country grows about 10 times as many tons of the crop as the US does, and artichokes find their way to the table in many forms: raw, fried, braised, or roasted. And, while you can find artichoke recipes all over Italy, Rome is home to two of the most famous: carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style fried artichokes) and the carciofi alla romana I’m focusing on here.

The most challenging thing about making carciofi alla romana is cleaning the artichokes, which I’ve gone over in detail (including video!) in another article.

WHY IT WORKS

Combining oregano and mint approximates the flavor and aroma of nepitella, an herb Romans use for this dish, better than mint alone.

Gently cooking the artichoke hearts in olive oil with white wine both steam and poaches them until they’re supremely tender and flavorful.

Easy Roman Braised Artichoke Hearts

Braised Roman-style artichokes are cooked gently in a mixture of white wine, olive oil, garlic, and herbs.

  • Vegetable peeler and paring knife
  • 2 whole lemons (for maintaining artichokes' color)
  • 4 large or 12 small artichokes (2 pounds; 1kg)
  • 1/4 cup (7g) minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Fill a large bowl with water; halve and squeeze 2 lemons into it. Trim artichokes by cleaning them down to the hearts, following the guidelines shown here: Using a serrated knife, cut off top of artichoke and bottommost part of stem. Using a paring knife or sharp vegetable peeler, trim away the tough outer leaves to expose the tender inner leaves and heart. Trim away fibrous outer layer around stem to expose tender inner core (if stem breaks off, that's okay; just save it and cook it alongside the hearts). Using a spoon, scrape out the inedible, hairy choke in the center of each heart. Transfer cleaned artichokes to bowl of lemon water as you work, covering them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them completely submerged.

  2. In a small bowl, stir together parsley, mint, oregano, and garlic. Rub concave side of each artichoke heart with herb mixture, packing it into any leafy crevices. Set aside remaining herb mixture.

  3. Add olive oil and wine to a pot just large enough to hold all the artichokes closely side by side, so that they can sit flat with their stem sides up. Arrange artichokes in pot and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Bring pot to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower heat to a bare simmer, cover, and cook until artichokes are fork-tender, 20 to 30 minutes. (Smaller artichokes may not take as long.)

  5. Remove from heat and transfer artichokes to a platter, stem sides up. Drizzle with cooking juices, along with some fresh olive oil and a light sprinkling of reserved herb mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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