Carciofi in fricassea (Artichokes in egg and lemon sauce)

Frankcontorno34 Comments

Carciofi in fricassea

Artichokes and eggs get along very nicely, don’t they? Artichokes are a classic filling for frittata and if you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know why. They’re delicious baked with egg or fried in egg batter. Or what about an egg, sunny side up, as a topping for braised artichokes? There are plenty of examples of this ideal pairing.

In this dish, baby artichokes cut into wedges and trifolati—sautéed in garlic and oil—and then napped with a creamy, tangy sauce of barely cooked egg yolks mixed with lemon juice and some grated cheese, a technique referred to in Italian cookery—rather confusingly for Anglophones—as fricassea.

It’s a tasty dish that sings of spring. Usually a side, and especially good with roasted lamb, I could also see carciofi in fricassea as an antipasto or even a light secondo as well.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 250g (1/2 lb) baby artichokes, trimmed and cut into wedges (see Notes)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley, finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the egg and lemon sauce:

  • The juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1-2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Trim the artichokes of their tough outer leaves and cut them into wedges. Place them in acidulated water. (See notes below for details.)

Mince the garlic and parsley together until you have a very fine near-paste. Gently sauté the garlic and parsley in olive oil in a stainless steel, enameled or terracotta skillet, then add the artichoke wedges, which you will have drained but not too well. Toss the artichokes in the seasoned oil for a few minutes, seasoning generously with salt and pepper.

Add a glassful of water (or if you’re in the mood, broth) to the skillet. Simmer uncovered over moderate heat until the liquid is nearly gone and the artichoke wedges perfectly tender. Add more liquid if it evaporates before the artichokes are done.

Whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, grated cheese and tiny pinch of salt, along with a small pinch of minced parsley for color if you like.

Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the egg and lemon mixture to the skillet, mixing everything together so the artichokes are well covered. (Depending on how much residual heat is left in the pan, you may need to return the skillet to the burner over the gentlest heat possible.) Toss the artichoke wedges until the mixture has thickened into a creamy sauce. Take care not to scramble the egg.

Serve right away.

Carciofi in fricassea

Notes on Carciofi in fricassea

In Italy you’d have a variety of small or medium sized artichokes you could use to carciofi in fricassea. Here in the States, we essentially limited to two varieties: the large ‘globe’ artichoke and the small ‘baby’ variety. It’s the latter you want for this dish, and actually any others where you cook the artichokes in wedges. Save large globe artichokes for dishes where the artichoke is served whole, such as carciofi alla giudia (Jewish style), carciofi alla romana (Roman style) or carciofi imbottiti (stuffed).

Carciofi in fricassea can also be made with frozen artichokes. They come pre-trimmed and cut into wedges. Very convenient with only a marginal loss in quality, in my opinion, over fresh artichokes. But for whatever reason they’re not easy to find these days.

Besides trimming the artichoke—for which, see the step-by-step instructions below—the only tricky part of making carciofi in fricassea is the final step. You want your artichoke wedges napped lightly with a creamy, tangy egg and lemon sauce. It’s a matter of balancing the heat: too little and your sauce will be too thin and runny. Too much and you risk scrambling the egg.

I generally try mixing the sauce off heat first. If you’re cooking with enameled cast iron or terracotta, it may well have retained enough residual heat to thicken the sauce nicely. If not, then put the pan back on the flame, but keep it as low as your stove will allow. Soon enough—usually within seconds in fact—the sauce should thicken up nicely. When it does, serve the dish up immediately to stop it cooking any further. But if your eggs do scramble, no matter. The taste will still be fine.

How to trim an artichoke

Trimming artichokes can be a bit of work, but baby artichokes are actually much easier to trim than the more common globe artichokes. Their leaves are much. more tender, and they generally don’t have that hairy choke in the center. To begin, take an untrimmed baby artichoke:

Start by removing its tough, dark green outer leaves until you’re down to the rather lighter green interior ones:

NB: I actually could have taken off one more layer…

Then cut off the top quarter to third of the artichoke, like so:

Then cut the trimmed artichoke into wedges:

Place the wedges as soon as they are cut in acidulated water. “Acidulated” just means that you’ve squeezed some lemon juice into the water, which stops the artichokes from darkening. I generally throw in the lemon half, too, for good measure:

A word to the wise; don’t use a carbon steel knife to trim and cut your artichokes or, for that matter, a carbon steel skillet to cook them in. The carbon steel will discolor the artichokes and (whatever you might read otherwise) lend them an unpleasant metallic taste. Don’t ask me how I know.

Making Carciofi in fricassea ahead

Carciofi in fricassea can be made ahead as far as the final step. Just gently reheat your braised artichokes, while you make the egg and lemon sauce. When the skillet is hot again, take it off the heat and add the sauce, proceeding from there.

Carciofi in fricassea

Artichoke wedges in egg and lemon sauce
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: braised, vegetable

Ingredients

  • 250g 1/2 lb baby artichokes trimmed and cut into wedges
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 2-3 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the egg and lemon sauce:

  • The juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1-2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Trim the artichokes of their tough outer leaves and cut them into wedges. Place them in acidulated water.
  • Mince the garlic and parsley together until you have a very fine near-paste. Gently sauté the garlic and parsley in olive oil in a stainless steel, enameled or terracotta skillet, then add the artichoke wedges, which you will have drained but not too well. Toss the artichokes in the seasoned oil for a few minutes, seasoning generously with salt and pepper.
  • Add a glassful of water (or if you're in the mood, broth) to the skillet. Simmer uncovered over moderate heat until the liquid is nearly gone and the artichoke wedges perfectly tender. Add more liquid if it evaporates before the artichokes are done.
  • Whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, grated cheese and tiny pinch of salt, along with a small pinch of minced parsley for color if you like.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the mixture to the skillet, mixing everything together so the artichokes are well covered. (Depending on how much residual heat is left in the pan, you may need to return the skillet to the burner over the gentlest heat possible.) Toss the artichoke wedges until the mixture has thickened into a creamy sauce. Take care not to scramble the egg.
  • Serve right away.

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34 Comments on “Carciofi in fricassea (Artichokes in egg and lemon sauce)”

  1. Have only done artichoke hearts dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried, but this is another lovely way to serve artichokes! I’ve never heard of this recipe before, but that’s what I love about your site, I’m always seeing and learning of new authentic Italian recipes! 🙂

  2. Frank, I love artichokes and in a frittata like your Frittata ai carciofi might just be my favorite. So, your Carciofi in fricassea looks not only tasty, but fun to prepare. I’ll have to use frozen artichokes as we’ve not seen fresh baby one in the market so far. Produce is moving much slower through the EU these days. Stay safe over your way…

  3. oh boy. Yes I know it’s 11:30 est. but never mind. I used your recipe exactly, except I had Select (from Milan i believe) jar of carciofi under oil. Small variety with ‘legs’ on. It was spectacular for a late night (11:30) light dinner. What’s your though on using these jars (under oil)…too much of a cheat….or? Beautiful recipe – thank you!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! On using jarred artichokes: if they work, why not? I’m for anything that makes life easy, so long as the taste is still good. And it certainly sounds that way!

  4. Interesting point about the carbon steel knife! (I won’t ask you how you know…haha.) I love artichokes, and this is totally artichoke season. However, I must admit that I’ve never combined artichokes and eggs. I’m totally going to have to try this! Your recipes always make me want to run to the kitchen and recreate them. 🙂 Nice and easy side dish here!

  5. Oh, those artichokes looks so young and tender – I look forward to the day I can find these at my market. What a delicious looking dish!

  6. I tried this dish yesterday. I live in Switzerland and we start having the spiky artichokes from Sardinia which are by far the best Italian artichokes! I had just bought them on the same day your recipe arrived in my mailbox. However to my taste, the parmesan cheese is too prominent and kills the delicate flavor of the artichoke. I will try it again with only 1 table spoon. Thanks for your weekly taste from Italy. I love it!

    1. I do miss those spiky ones, Viveca. They’re impossible to find over here. In terms of the cheese, of course. As you know, everything in Italian cookery (or almost) follows the “quanto basta” rule. Thanks so much for your kind comment!

  7. My first message-bearing genie got lost ! BUT – ‘the more you know the more you know you don’t know’ ! How true!! Love artichokes and use eggs most daily . . .have never made anything resembling this recipe – surely shall as soon as the August spring winds herald artichokes – one of the few really seasonal vegetables in Australia . . . have not looked in the freezer section . . . my first spring dish to make this year methinks . . .meanwhile back to the unknown . . .

    1. You should check to see if they have the frozen ones in your local supermarket. They really can be quite good. Stay safe, Eha!

  8. Thank you Frank for such a receipt, I was born under an artichoke’s tree and boy o boy do I know how to cook them, whether its antipasto main or at anytime for that matter I love cooking them as much as I like eating them and right now I ‘ve got 6 large jars under oil so myself and my family can have them at anytime we feel like!!!

  9. ‘The more you know the more you know you don’t know’ ! Is this ever true at the moment 🙂 ! Love artichokes and use a lot of eggs – no, have not put them together or made a dish resembling this. We do not have to wait for coronavirus in Australia, but the first artichokes of the season will appear in August . . . one dish I cannot wait tto make ! Or the one of yours David posted this Sunday of ours . . .

    1. That’s funny thing about living in different hemispheres, Eha. The seasons are the opposite! I notice that when I read blogs from Down Under, when I’m putting out spring dishes, they’re putting out autumn ones!

  10. I usually buy frozen artichokes at Trader Joe’s. Sometimes the supermarkets like ShopRite have them. Stay well!

  11. Dear Frank, thank you so much, what a lovely dish, We as Italian we make good use of this special food item, especially in risottos or as my mother used to make, al sugo. God bless you and stay safe in this terrible moments for us all.

  12. Such a beautiful bowl of comforting food, I can’t wait till baby artichokes appear in our market! This will definitely be happening!

    Hope it’s okay that I did your spezzatino today! So good.

  13. Terrific dish! I haven’t had anything like this — such a terrific flavor combination. Agree eggs and artichokes are soulmates. I just happen to have some artichoke hearts in my freezer — gee, wonder what I should do with them? 🙂 Really nice — thanks.

  14. Having literally just returned from Spain (no where near Madrid), this dish looks like a wonderful tapa. I’ve never seen frozen artichokes in Toronto but did see them in Spain. Can’t wait for patio season, this dish will definitely make an appearance this summer.
    We’ve decided to self-isolate for 14 days, even though we have no symptoms. I suspect I’ll get a lot of blogging done. Stay safe. 🙂

    1. Ha! We’re doing the same, Eva. There will definitely be a lot of cooking going on around here, too, if not blogging!

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