Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Italian Stuffed Artichokes

This recipe is a favorite originating from my Mother's large Italian family. It was her job growing up to clean, trim, and stuff the artichokes.  I can't imagine making a dozen of these at a time. My Mom taught me to make these when I was young and now I make them for my family. My husband and my son Jack really enjoy eating stuffed artichokes.  They are a "labor of love" to make because of the preparation, but very worth it.  Most people are scared to cook or even eat whole artichokes, so hopefully this post will help educate and show you how easy it is. 
Italian Stuffed Artichokes

Ingredients:
4 medium fresh artichokes
2 - 3 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano, or parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic salt or 1 clove fresh minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
Directions:
Using a sharp knife, cut off the stem of the artichoke.
You will need it to sit upright in a pan so make the bottom level.
Next trim off about 1/2 inch of the very top of the artichoke.
It should now look like this.
Using a pair of kitchen shears and starting from the bottom, trim off the pointy top of each leaf.  You are only cutting the tip, so maybe about 1/4 inch?
Continue all the way around the artichoke until you get to the top where the leaves are much tighter.
Don't worry if some of the leaves split a little in the middle when you are trimming them.
Continue with remaining artichokes.
Now you are ready to wash and stuff the artichokes.
Wash the artichokes and use your fingers to help loosen up the leaves by gently pulling them away from the center.  This will make them easier to stuff.  Turn the artichoke upside down and shake out any excess water.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Add the bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley, garlic powder (or garlic) to a large mixing bowl.  Mix together.
Add enough olive oil to make the mixture moist.
You want the mixture to be able to stick together when pressed against the side of the bowl with a fork.
Now stuff the artichoke leaves right over the bowl. Starting at the bottom again work your way up and around till you get to the top with the tighter leaves.  Gently pull out each leaf and use your hand to scoop some of the mixture into the leaf.  Don't worry if some falls out.  Push the mixture down using your thumb.
Your choke should look big and fat now :)
Once you have stuffed most of the artichoke (don't do the leaves at the top) turn the artichoke upside down and shake out any excess bread crumb mixture.
Continue with remaining artichokes.  Depending how heavy handed you are with the mixture, you might need to make more.  I had just enough to stuff four artichokes.
These bad boys are ready for the oven now.
You can drizzle a little lemon juice over the top to prevent browning if you wish (I usually do not).
Place the artichokes in a large metal roasting pan.
Pour enough water into the pan to cover the base of the artichokes - about 1/2 inch of water.  You need this water to help steam the chokes.
Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 60-80 minutes.  The cook time with depend on the size of your artichokes and how much you stuffed them.
After 60 minutes remove the pan from the oven to check for doneness.  Carefully uncover the pan.
Use your fingers to pull out a leaf from one of the artichokes.  If it comes out easily, they are done.  If it gives you resistance, cover and cook for another 10 minutes or so and check again.
Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
To eat the artichoke, pull out a leaf with the bread crumb mixture...
Use your teeth to scrape off the bread crumb mixture into your mouth.  You can also eat the very bottom part of the leaf (the tender lighter colored part), which is part of the heart.
Discard the leaf and continue eating the remaining stuffed leaves.  Once the outer leaves are gone, and you get to the center of the artichoke, use a spoon to scrape off the little white leaves and the fuzzy part covering the heart.  The heart is on the bottom and very yummy.
From generation to generation, this recipe is a classic and continues to be a pleaser for all.  Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Ummmm.... YUM. I've never heard of stuffing an artichoke. Love this idea, and I love the step by steps, as always. I haven't had an artichoke in years, which is really just sad. I shall buy some post haste. Thank you!

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