[We have a wander around Italy on the hunt for the most typical dishes of our heritage. Which you can also replicate at home, if you fancy. That’s right, because we’re also going to give you the recipe!]
Rome, the Eternal City, boasts a rich and imaginative cuisine that is truly delicious and undoubtedly worthy of a capital city – which, of course, it is. Strolling through the alleyways of the historic centre is like embarking on a fragrant journey to delight the senses, among scents wafting around every corner.
There are eateries everywhere, all easily recognisable with their padded chairs, red gingham tablecloths and square tables, which are set out on the street in fine weather – uncovered outdoor seating, betwixt one façade and another, between climbing ivy and bougainvillea.
This image may seem a little cliché, but it is still very commonplace in the most central streets, in the heart of the historic centre, between Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain.
A traditional atmosphere, as traditional as many ingredients used in the typical cuisine of Rome: like artichoke, for example. The “Romanesco” variety is thorn-free, round and particularly meaty.
It is always delicious cooked whole (known as “alla giudia”) or as an accompaniment to meat, especially with the famous Straccetti: a super quick recipe that is easy to replicate anywhere in the world.
So, if you feel like travelling to Rome without moving from your kitchen, here is the perfect recipe for you!
STRACCETTI ALLA ROMANA
[preparation time: half an hour]
Ingredients [serves 4]
- 800 g beef rump, thinly sliced: carpaccio slices are ideal
- 2 artichokes (or 3 if they are small and have thorns)
- 100 g Parmesan cheese (shavings)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 glass of white wine
- Black pepper
A quick disclaimer: this recipe calls for raw artichokes. If you’re not a fan, scroll down for an alternative.
Speaking of artichokes: we begin by cleaning them. Remove the tougher outer leaves and leave only the heart: we will keep about half of it. The stalk should also be almost completely removed, as should the tips, even if the artichokes don’t have thorns.
Cut them lengthwise into four segments and remove the inner beard – despite being so well protected, it is often tough and has small thorns. As you clean the artichokes, soak them in water and lemon juice to prevent them turning black.
Once you have your artichoke wedges, dry them with kitchen paper and slice them very thinly. Then, let them soak for about 20 minutes in a mixture of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Now it’s time to move on to the meat: if you have opted for carpaccio slices, simply cut them into strips 3-4 cm wide. If you have slices of rump, you first need to tenderise them well with a meat pounder or the bottom of a glass or jar: you’ll need a heavy tool to get the slices super thin!
Drizzle a little oil in the bottom of a large frying pan and let the whole garlic sizzle away, without burning it. Add the tenderised meat (cut into strips, or “straccetti” in Italian) and brown it on a high heat for 20 seconds. Then deglaze the pan with the wine, let it evaporate, and continue cooking for another 1 minute. Add just a pinch of salt then take it off the heat.
A little tip: the meat should be cooked as little as possible, otherwise it will dry out and lose the tenderness that is typical of this dish.
Serve your Straccetti hot by covering the meat with the artichoke mixture (which you will have drained) and garnish with Parmesan shavings.
Not a fan of raw artichokes? Once sliced, instead of letting them soak in oil and lemon juice, you can brown them in a pan with a small chopped onion. You should cook them for about 10 minutes on a high heat; add a drop of water if you are worried they will stick to the pan. They will serve as the perfect topping for your steaming plate of Straccetti.
And voilà: fragrant, tender, warm... your lunch is served, just as if you were in Piazza Navona!
Buon appetito! 💗