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Alcachofas con Jamon - Artichokes with Serrano Ham

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Alcachofas con Jamon - Artichokes with Serrano Ham

Alcachofas con Jamon - Artichokes with Serrano Ham (c) 2007 L. Sierra Licensed to About.com Inc.

"Alcachofas con Jamon" or Artichokes with Serrano Ham is from La Rioja region. It is a good side dish to serve with meat or fish. The cooked artichokes are covered in a sauce made from onion, carrot and ham, sauteed in white wine.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 small artichokes *
  • 1/4 cup Serrano ham, chopped into small bits
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 oz. white wine
  • 1 Tbsp unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup (approximately) Spanish olive oil for sauteeing
  • pinch of salt
  • water
  • sliced green onions for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

Serves 4.

* If artichokes are large "Globe" variety, you will only need 4. If you are using a smaller variety, you may want to use 6-8. See the section below for more information on artichoke varieties.

Artichoke Varieties and the Best Time to Buy

Depending on where you live, you will find different varieties of fresh artichokes in the market. Most artichokes are grown in the Mediterranean, with Spain and Italy being the largest producers and exporters. California produces 90% of artichokes grown in the USA and the Central Coast region of California is the primary area of production. In Spain, almost all artichokes sold in markets are of the small compact variety called "Blanca de Tudela" (Navarra), while California grows the large "Green Globe" variety. Cooking time and tenderness of artichokes vary, depending on the variety you use. The larger the artichoke, the longer the cooking time will be.

In Spain, the best time of year for artichokes is the Fall. Most harvesting in Spain starts in October and stops at the first frost. Spring is the best time for artichokes in California, where most of the harvesting occurs between March and mid-May.

Wash the artichokes thoroughly under cold running water. Trim off the stem using a sharp kitchen knife. Remove the outermost leaves, since they are very tough. Trim the tops of the artichoke leaves with a pair of kitchen shears.

Note: If you are not familiar with handling of fresh artichokes, read About.com’s Guide to Gourmet Food article, How to Trim an Artichoke, which is an excellent step-by-step article with photographs on how to clean, trim and cook artichokes.

Place artichokes in a large pot and add enough water to cover them. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice, a dash of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Place over high heat and boil artichokes for about 45-50 minutes, until tender. Remove and turn upside-down to drain and cool. Reserve about 1 cup of liquid to use later in sauce.

While the artichokes are cooking, peel and finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and carrot. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic and carrot in the pan and when they begin to brown, add the ham and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the flour and stir. Add the white wine and enough of the reserved artichoke water to create a sauce, stirring often. Cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

When the artichokes are cooked and have drained, cut in half. Remove and discard the purple leaves and any “hair.” Place cut side up on a platter and pour sauce over artichokes. (Re-heat sauce if it has cooled in the meantime and add a bit more artichoke water if necessary.) Garnish with green onion slices if desired.

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