Braised Cardoons


  • 2 1/2 pounds cardoons, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • About 2 ounces (1/3 cup) finely chopped fatty, firm, flavorful ham, such as proscuitto
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 pound ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • Pepper to taste, salt if desired
  • 1 cup chicken, beef, or veal stock or broth


Halve stalks crosswise, then halve wider base parts lengthwise. Rinse well. Drop into a very large pot of boiling water. Boil, partly covered, until barely tender- about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy skillet. Add ham and onion and saute for a few minutes over moderate heat. Add tomatoes and toss. Cover and cook over low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Cool cardoons briefly. With paring knife zip strings from each stalk, working first from one end, then the other. Spread half vegetable mixture in a shallow baking-serving dish that will just hold stalks closely (about 2-quart capacity), arrange cardoons in dish, tightly packed. Top with remaining vegetables. Sprinkle with pepper (add salt if you like, but cardoons are unusually salty, as is proscuitto.) Pour stock into skillet in which vegetables cooked. Bring to boil, then pour over cardoons. Cover with sheet of oiled waxed paper to just fit inside dish. Cover tightly with foil or close-fitting lid.

Bake in 350 degree oven about 1 1/2 hours, until very tender. Remove foil and paper, raise heat to 400 degrees, and bake about 1/2 hour longer, to evaporate some juices and concentrate flavors.

Makes 5 or 6 servings