Corona Cookbook; Artichokes

Marinated Sicilian Style

By: - Dec 13, 2020

In Italian carciofo. 

Ubiquitous on their menu but too rare on ours.

Most people don’t know what to do with artichokes. 

It’s something expensive and exotic but needn’t be.

The best we’ve had were from Guido’s in Lenox.

Huge and about three bucks each. 

I sprung for four so enough for two meals. 

Not that often, however, when I feel that flush.

Our local Stop and Shop has a section for ripe produce on sale.

Now and then they have artichokes.

I bought eight at 49 cents a pound.

To be sure they looked funky and most folks would pass them up.

The outer leaves looked brown and gone. 

The trick is to remove them as inside that layer are the edible leaves.

Trim the stem.

I have an old serrated knife, my favorite, which is up to the task.

It’s a tough job to trim the ends. Depending on the size of the choke I would say about an inch. 

That leaves you with a nice, nested top.

Wash them and arrange them in a deep dish frying pan or anything with a cover.

All eight fit nicely into our pan. 

It’s a beauty with a heavy bottom we bought years ago in Maine.

Into the top of each choke I start with olive oil. Be generous as it will sink down into them. Then a splash of acidity. That might be fresh lemon or balsamic vinegar. This time I used flavored rice vinegar. 

The final sauce is a dash of soy for which I prefer nice light soy and not the cheap stuff. We order authentic Chinese soy from Amazon. 

The finish and real secret is a generous amount of minced garlic and minced ginger. This time I was lazy and skipped the ginger but the garlic is essential. 

My dad, from whom I have adapted this technique, added flavored breadcrumbs for “stuffed” chokes. It pulls in all those flavors. But I have concluded that it is an extra step.

Water is added up to the bottom, or heart of the choke. 

Raise the heat to a boil. Then cover and simmer for half hour to forty five minutes. Fresh chokes can be tough so you want to calculate time accordingly. Overcook and the leaves get mushy. 

It takes some practice to get it right. Astrid prefers the leaves to be softer so that is a factor. Be careful not to overcook as the heart, the best part, will get mushy and disappointing.

To consume tear off the outer leaves and pinch off the ends. The inner ones will be too soft so bunch and munch. When the leaves are gone what remains is a layer of fuzzy stuff. Gently remove that with a butter knife of spoon.

What remains is the bare heart. It has absorbed the marinade and is rich in flavor. Consuming it evokes the expression of Bernini’s St. Teresa in Ecstacy. 

Most American’s just steam the choke, add no flavors, then dip the leaves in Hollandaise sauce. 

That’s OK is guess but pales compared to Sicilian style.  

Tonight we will serve the remaining four. 

You can have them cold or reheat.  

Last night they were just divine.