ItalianNotebook – Italy Travel Blog

Girlfriends: Alici al forno con Carciofi

aliciforno1Ne era ghiotto, era uno dei suoi piatti preferiti. Si mangiava tutta la teglia quando gliele facevo.
(He had a weakness for them, it was one of his favorite dishes. He would finish the entire pan whenever I made them for him.)

While she might have been sharing the recipe with me, it was obvious that she was actually reminiscing about her late husband in an entirely intimate and affectionate way… through his favorite food. Apart from the experience itself, nothing is quite as tangible as a memory associated with taste and smell.

Honored to have been privy to her memories (and culinary knowledge!), I decided to give it a stab. Incidentally, as usual no measurements were given, so I prepared the dish as best as possible according to her description and what made sense. My final result was good, but not excellent (I used too much oil, and too little salt, garlic, breadcrumbs, and parsley). Next time around I’ll know and it should be better, while usually by the third time I manage to get things right and so hope to do honor to her recipe.

Here goes:

– Figure half a pound of fresh anchovies and one artichoke per person. (The romanesco artichoke is a local variety found here, that you can eat – choke and all – after removing the tougher leaves and outer fibrous part of the stem.)

– Clean the anchovies of head and spine, and lay them out skin side down in an oil lined baking pan that has been dusted with bread crumbs. Dress with salt, parsley, finely chopped garlic. Add a layer of thinly sliced artichokes, dust again with bread crumbs, and un filo (a string) of olive oil.

– Repeat the above paragraph again to create two layers of the anchovies/artichokes with dressing and breadcrumbs.

– Put in oven at medium heat, about 325-350 deg F (160-180 C) for about 20 minutes, and serve immediately.

This morning Bruno (vegetable stall) who sold me the artichokes asked how it went.

Ma, cosi cosi. Fatto sta’ che ho finito comunque tutta la teglia,” I answered. (“So-so. That said, I finished the whole pan.”)

I might have never met her husband, but I can safely say we would have agreed on this dish for sure.

Here are the search results from plugging in the word “girlfriends” in the search box on the website. Enjoy!”

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