Braised Lamb and Cardoon

Braised Lamb and Cardoon is a tasty stew which bring two distinct ingredients together. Cardoon, also known as Cardoni, is related to the artichoke and has a similar taste but with more nut-like overtones; it resembles oversize celery with small thorns lining the edges of the ribs. While not well known outside of Italy, cardoon is a seasonal vegetable popular in southern Italy and Sicily. Braised Lamb and Cardoon joins cardoon with lamb and seasonings in a complex combination of tastes and textures.  Braising gently releases the wonderful flavors of the lamb, cardoon and the seasonings while serving to tenderize the lamb as well.  Braised Lamb and Cardoon is a dish with humble origins; while you and your dinner guests may not be familiar with its main ingredients, all will enjoy its mellow, yet deep flavors.  Enjoy Braised Lamb and Cardoon after a Wilted Arugula Salad appetizer, accompanied by a crusty loaf of bread and a medium-weight, dry red wine.

Braised Lamb and Cardoon

Prep Time: 40 minutes, Cooking Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.  Serves 4.

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  • 1 ½ lbs Cardoon
  • 1/2 tsp coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 ½ – 2 lbs boneless Lamb, in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 3-inch sprigs fresh Rosemary
  • 3 Bay Leaves, preferably fresh
  • 1 ½ cups chopped Onion
  • 1 Tb minced Garlic
  • ½ cup dry White Wine, at room temperature
  • 1 or 2 boneless Anchovy fillets mashed or 2 Tbs Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) *
  • 2 Tbs Capers, drained of brine


Braised Lamb and Cardoon


  1. Clean the cardoon, rinsing each stalk. Using a cheese plane or paring knife, carefully remove the small thorns along the edge of each rib and any leaves from each stalk and pull the thick strings from the back of the stalk.
  2. Cut the trimmed cardoon stalks into 1” pieces and place in a bowl of acidulated water.
  3. Add the sea salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Parboil the cardoon pieces, working in batches if necessary, until they begin to soften slightly but are still quite firm; around 15 minutes. Remove from the boiling water, drain and set aside.
  5. Combine the flour and black pepper in a large mixing bowl; add the lamb to the bowl and mix to coat the lamb pieces.
  6. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large, deep pot or Dutch oven.
  7. Shake any excess flour from the lamb and add the lamb to the pot, turning to coat quickly with the hot oil. Add the rosemary sprigs to the pot, cover, reduce to a medium heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes, stir the onion, garlic and bay leaves into the lamb, mixing thoroughly; cover and cook for 15 minutes then remove the denuded stems of the rosemary sprigs from the pot.
  9. Add the dry white wine to the sautéed lamb, stirring to deglaze.
  10. Add the drained capers and mashed anchovy fillets or fish sauce to the lamb; stir to mix, cover and cook for 2 minutes.
  11. Add the parboiled cardoon pieces to the lamb, stir to mix, cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  12. There should be a bit of sauce remaining with the braised lamb and cardoon; if it is too dry, add a small amount of warm water and cook for another 2 minutes.
  13. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and serve Braised Lamb and Cardoon immediately.

Braised Lamb and Cardoon


  • Fish Sauce, or Nam Pla, is the clear, brown liquid given off by salted, fermented anchovies; it’s likely very similar to “garum” which accompanied all meals in ancient Rome. A little of it goes a long way and it makes a very convenient substitute for mashed anchovy fillets in recipes. Fish Sauce is ubiquitous in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines.  We recommend 3 Crabs brand; the flavor is perfectly authentic, not overly salty and it does not contain caramel or any other coloring agent.

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