I thought I’d share another of my family’s special-occasion recipes with you guys. Last week I posted our Italian wedding soup recipe with Parmesan soup cubes, which is one of my husband’s favorites. So this week I thought I would share one of my personal favorites: stuffed artichokes.
Artichokes can be kind of polarizing and I know that not everyone loves them. But this recipe was one of my Grandma’s favorites, it’s one of my mom’s favorites, and it’s one of mine. Growing up, we used to make a few of them and share them as a special treat. (Because artichokes were expensive! We used to do the same for pomegranates and I still think it’s a special occasion every time I have anything pomegranate-flavored.) One artichoke can comfortably serve 2 people as an appetizer, but I managed to destroy an entire one by myself for lunch without batting an eye.
Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy recipe. You really just trim the artichoke and then stuff each leaf with a breadcrumb/parmesan/egg mixture. The presentation is fantastic: you serve the artichokes whole, and peel off one leaf at a time. It has a nugget of filling clinging to it. You dip it in melted butter and use your teeth to scrape off the meaty bottom part of the artichoke. Eventually you get to the center of the artichoke, and you have to pick out the choke to get to the heart. That’s when all of your work pays off.
Just a quick note: if you watch any videos about cleaning artichokes online, they tell you to dig out the choke before steaming it. I disagree with this method, because in doing so you are also pulling out one of my favorite parts of the artichoke. The leaves just above the choke have a pointy tip, but they’re also the most tender and flavorful leaves. I hold the pointy tips between my fingers and bite off the bottom part, which is so tender that you can eat the whole leaf instead of just scraping the meat off. Once you clear this tender part, you reveal the fuzzy choke. It’s really easy to just scoop it out with a spoon at this point.
And one quick warning: these can be a little messy to eat! So have napkins handy and don’t wear anything too nice.
Parmesan and Breadcrumb Stuffed Artichokes
serves 1-2 people
Ingredient quantities are per artichoke:
1.5 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
For the cooking liquid:
water, chicken stock or vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
melted butter, for serving
Make the filling:
Lightly beat the egg. Add Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Add half of the breadcrumbs and mix well.
Add more breadcrumbs 1 tablespoon at a time, until the filling turns into a thick paste. Add salt and paper to taste.
Set aside the filling.
Clean the artichoke:
Wash each artichoke and pull off any brown or rough-looking outer leaves.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel the tough outer layer from the stem (the inside is tender and delicious!).
Cut the top 1/3 off the artichoke.
Use kitchen shears to cut off the sharp, pointy ends of the outer leaves of the artichoke.
Tip: if you’re making multiple artichokes, place them in acidulated water (water with half of a lemon squeezed into it) as you finish cleaning them or they’ll start to turn brown.
Stuff and cook the artichoke:
Starting from the outermost leaves, use your fingers to loosen up the artichoke and create more space in between the leaves for the stuffing.
Continue until you have filled the space between each leaf and put some in the center of the artichoke as well.
Place the artichokes face-up in a pot that has a tightly-fitting lid. The pot shouldn’t be too tall, because we need to steam the top half of the artichoke. Add water or stock to reach halfway up the side of the artichoke. Add the garlic, bay and onion. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and steam until the artichoke is tender, about 40 minutes.
Serve with melted butter.
Start at the outside of the artichoke and pull of 1 leaf at a time. The bottom half of the artichoke has the tender part that is edible, so dip that in butter and use your teeth to scrape the tasty meat off each leaf.
Once you get to the center of the artichoke, dig out the choke with a spoon and discard. Eat the heart and stem last.