Sunday roast pork with artichokes and Grana Padano Riserva
The Sunday roast. This is what Italian grandmothers used to call the dish par excellence for a festive Sunday lunch. The name itself implies more time and patience than usual, in both the preparation and the cooking. An important dish, rich, also because, in the past, the meat was reserved for the holidays. Just like Sunday chicken, the roast remains in our most intimate and comforting memories. 
Difficulty
Easy
Serves
6/8 people
Preparation time
30 min. plus 1.10 hr. cooking time
Season
Fall/Winter
Type
Meat
Ageing
Grana Padano Riserva
Francesca D'Orazio
Ingredients
1.2 kg of pork loin
6 purple artichokes 
1 spring onion, chopped
1 dozen of fresh thyme sprigs
40 small leaves of fresh mint
1 bunch of chives
1/2 tablespoon of salted capers, kept in water
100 g of thinly sliced lard
100 g of thinly sliced Prosciutto
100 g of Grana Padano Riserva, sliced thinly
4-5 medium sized potatoes
2 shallots, peeled
70 ml of dry white wine
extra virgin olive oil
butter
salt
pepper
edible flowers
 
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 220 ° C.
Chop the thyme leaves (keeping 4 sprigs) with the mint, chives and capers (properly rinsed under running water).
Clean the artichokes, cut them into 4 quarters, and keep them in cold water with a spoonful of lemon juice.
In a large pan, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the chopped spring onion, then add the artichokes, season and cook them with a drizzle of water. When cooked, remove from heat and add a quarter of the chopped herbs and capers. Add the lard to the remaining herbs and chop it finely.
Butterfly the pork loin, as shown in the pictures (you can ask the butcher to do it for you).
Spread the mixture of chopped herbs, capers and lard on the pork, arrange the slices of prosciutto, then the artichokes (set some aside to garnish the dish), and finally the Grana Padano slices.
Roll up and tie the meat using a butcher string. Spread a little butter on the meat and season with salt.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces and place them in a saucepan; cover them with cold water and bring to a boil for 4 minutes, then remove from heat.
Transfer the meat to an oven proof dish, add the potatoes, peeled shallots, and thyme. 
Pour in the wine around the edges of the dish, and roast in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 180°C and continue cooking for another 40 minutes.
Leave the roast to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Arrange the slices on a serving dish. Garnish with potatoes, shallots, artichokes and edible flowers.
 
Cooking tips
For a veggie version, stuffed artichokes are an alternative Sunday dish. To make them, blend two slices of fresh country style bread (without the crusts) with the chopped aromatic herbs, then mix it with 100 g of grated Grana Padano, and 200 g of cubed Taleggio cheese. 
Clean 4 artichokes and prepare them to be filled by spreading out the leaves and removing the inner choke. Fill the artichokes with the blended bread, cheese and herbs, then arrange them on an oven proof dish with largely diced and blanched potatoes. Season the artichokes with salt, a drizzle of oil and 1/2 glass of white wine. Cook in a preheated oven at 180 ° C for about 30 minutes. For the first 10 minutes, cover with aluminum foil, then uncover.
 
Artichokes: how to choose, clean and cut them
Artichokes are excellent winter vegetables and extraordinary for their great nutritional properties. They contain excellent antioxidants, anticarcinogens, help to detox the liver and ease digestion.  Since they are so versatile, we can enjoy them in many different seasonal dishes from October to May in Italy. The last flowers of the season are used for making preserves. 

The artichoke is a herbaceous plant derived from the wild cardoon plant, but only the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom are eaten. Artichokes are grown across Italy, from the North to the South: the most well-known varieties are found in Liguria, Sardinia, Lazio, Campania, but also in Tuscany, Apulia and Sicily.

There are many varieties within three broader categories: purple, spiny, and globe artichokes. Each one of these varieties has its own peculiarities and recipes, often related to ancient local traditions.
The largest one, the globe artichoke, also called Roman artichokes, are perfect for recipes from Rome: alla giudea, alla Romanesca, but also stuffed and baked.

For an artichoke salad, seasoned with a lemon vinaigrette, topped with slices of Grana Padano PDO, the spiny variety, from Sardinia or Liguria are ideal. Pay attention when cleaning and always, especially in this case, make sure they are very fresh. For thinly sliced and fried artichokes you can try the purple or spiny artichokes, they are both excellent! 
As already mentioned, many regional recipes suggest using their own local varieties, such as Neapolitan artichokes, which are typically cooked - with great expertise and skill - on the grill.

How to choose them
  • Freshness is very important: the color must be vibrant, and they should be firm to the touch, without spots or crumpled leaves. The choke inside shouldn’t be too large.

How to clean them
  • All you need is a large bowl, some lemon juice (we’ll also see some alternatives), an ice cream scoop or a teaspoon), a small knife (I prefer a serrated one) and gloves to protect your hands from turning black when handling the artichokes.
  • Discard the outer leaves and spines, if there are any, until you reach the clear part (the heart). Using the discarded leaves, you can prepare a nice broth to make a soup or a risotto with artichokes. Cut the upper part of the artichokes and using a small knife, scrape the base and the stem, removing the hairy filaments of the choke. Follow the recipes for details on how to cut. 
  • The stems: once you have removed the choke, the stems can be cooked, and used for a soup if you don't want to bring them to the table.
  • When cutting artichokes into wedges, divide them in half and remove the internal choke using a scoop. If using the artichokes whole, loosen the outer leaves, spreading out the centre to remove the choke.
  • Submerge the cleaned artichokes in a basin full of cold water, add some lemon juice and leave it to soak for half an hour. Alternatively, use sparkling water and parsley stalks pounded with a knife ( the carbon dioxide of the water combined with the parsley helps slow down the oxidation).
Tips for the table

This month's table welcomes the arrival of spring. I chose a tireless white and blue dinnerware and glasses (both Japanese), each of them with different decorations, like the Japanese tradition.
Beautiful and colorful, cheerful flowers that you can frame together with branches of myrtle, being possible to be placed on the tablecloth. 
Reminder: toxic flowers and plants should never be used as table decoration. While we rarely see oleander flowers on the table, on the contrary, the use of ivy on the tables is widespread, which unfortunately represents a very common decorative element, especially used in buffet. Better to avoid them, since they are both toxic!
For this table, I thought of an unusual flower arrangement.
In fact, I decided to place flowers inside a sort of container, arranged using a linen fabric called "schiavini". What are  schiavini?

At the end of the mentioned process, each linen cloth is washed thoroughly. It is curious that  these beautiful clothes are used only for cleaning activities… What a pity!
These clothes are difficult to find, but I’m sure at home you’ll find some old linen kept somewhere.… I’m sure you have so many linen clothes, the grandmothers ones kept in your cabinet
 
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