Artichoke and Blood Orange Salad

Insalata di Carciofi da Mammalicia

Whenever friends come to Turin, we always make sure we have dinner at a trattoria called Mamalicia.  An inviting restaurant with a big history and eclectic décor where once you sit down you begin to notice details that point towards a rich and eventful past.

Mamalicia is run by one of Turin’s Grandi Chefs (top chefs), Maria Buzzi and her small crew of dedicated staff. Maria’s vision is to maintain the integrity that was built up in Mamalicia’s heyday during the 60’s and 70’s. Just as the name suggests, the restaurant was originally in the hands of a lady known as Mamma Licia who, in the 50’s, started the humblest of eating spots. Family operated for over four decades, the dining room was dominated by one, long, central table, where diners would sit together for a single sitting, and be served an entrée, main, cheese, fruit and wine for 1000 lire (less than 1 Euro).

The intelligentsia found fertile ground in Turin during the 60’s and & 70’s. The literary and art scenes thrived in this city and many in those scenes sat elbow to elbow with an array of locals to be fed by Mamma Licia. Over that time the walls of the restaurant slowly accumulated artworks and writings by impoverished artists and writers whose only means of paying for meals was via their talent. Sadly after Mamma Licia’s death in the mid 90’s these works disappeared into the possession of private collectors.

The original Mamma Licia on the left and Maria Buzzi at Trattoria Mamalicia

Maria Buzzi is more concerned with preparing great quality and flavoursome food rather than paying an exaggerated amount of attention to the finely crafted presentation of haute cuisine. The menu has some obligatory Piemontese cooking which will always satisfy those looking for tradition but the highlights are the dishes where she throws herself open to experimentation. This salad is certainly one of those.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 Artichokes
500g of stewing beef
2 large sprigs of rosemary
2 lemons
4 blood oranges or regular oranges
2 carrots (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 stems of celery
1 large onion (peeled and halved)
1 large head of green lettuce. (a green lettuce such as lollo or mignonette, as long as it can act as a neutral base for the other ingredients. Nothing sharp or bitter and preferably not iceberg)
Method
Preparing the artichokes:

Clean and prepare the artichokes and cut them thinly putting them straight into lemon water.

Remove the artichokes from the water and place into a bowl where they can marinate in your fridge overnight.

Pour the juice of one lemon directly onto them and roll them around in the juice so they are entirely coated in the lemon juice.

Place the rosemary sprigs in a shallow dish and cover with half a cup of boiling water and allow to sit until the water cools.

Remove the peel of two blood oranges with a vegetable peeler and leave the peel in rather wide strips. Remove all the white pith attached to the peel.

Pour the juice of four blood oranges over the artichokes with the peel you have removed and the rosemary springs and water, mix it all very well, ensure that the artichokes are completely covered then allow to sit in your fridge overnight.

Preparing the meat:

Ask your butcher for a joint of stewing beef.

Put the whole joint in a large pot of cold water and add the chopped carrots, onions and celery.

Bring it to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 5-6 hours.

Allow it to cool then remove from the water. Tear away the meat in long shreds. It will want to naturally come away with the grain of the meat.

Gather enough shredded meat for your salads.

Bringing it all together:

Wash, clean and dry the lettuce.

Tear the lettuce into large pieces and use this as a bed for the remaining ingredients.

Drain the artichokes of the orange juice then remove the peel and rosemary.

Heat a very small amount of olive oil in a pan and toss the artichokes in a pan to sauté for only a few minutes.

Mix the artichokes with the shredded beef and toss together lightly.

Place a generous handful of the shredded beef and artichokes on to the leafy bed of each salad.

Drizzle with some good quality extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Maria uses a commercial kitchen to prepare this dish but to make this dish at home we have to adapt it a little. In her kitchen she uses a vacuum sealer during the marinating process and a steam oven.  Together we decided that the artichokes could be marinated overnight and could later be tossed in a pan for a few minutes.

Mamalicia

via Mazzini n. 50
Torino

tel. 011.8142078.

Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday.

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