Monday, April 12, 2010

Nana’s Stuffed Artichokes

When my brother and I were growing up, our nana loved to cook for our family. One of our favorite things of hers was stuffed artichokes; it was always such a treat when my mom came home from my nana's house with a Tupperware containing fresh, steaming stuffed artichokes. When my brother and I were younger, we didn't like them very much, so my mom was dismayed when we finally developed a taste for them.

Since moving away from home, I'd only had one chance to have my nana's artichokes. They're the thing of legend in my family, so my brother and I have been trying to make them for years. Every spring we've looked for the perfect artichokes, try working out a recipe, and get disappointed when it doesn't taste the same. Ultimately, most of the issue is in the preparation and having the patience to gently fill the artichokes. This time, I sat down, put on some music, and got to work. And, while it doesn't taste exactly like my nana's artichokes, they're pretty close, and pretty amazing. And yes, I do use garlic and onion powder here – they work very well in this application.

Mike doesn't quite like stuffed artichokes...yet? Maybe someday it'll be my turn to be dismayed when I have to share!




Nana’s Stuffed Artichokes

Note: this does take time, patience, and a steady hand. It’s more of a weekend recipe than a weeknight recipe.

Serves 4

1 tbsp lemon juice

4 cups breadcrumbs (homemade preferred)

2 tbsp Italian seasoning

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tbsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tbsp table salt)

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan

4 large artichokes

Olive oil

Vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Melted butter for dipping

Fill a large bowl with cool water and lemon juice. This is to keep the artichokes from browning when cut.

Combine the breadcrumbs through the next five ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Each artichoke will be filled with a quarter of this stuffing mix. Set a large stock pot on the stove so that the filled artichokes can be placed directly into the pot.

Wash the artichokes. Starting with one artichoke, slice off the stem at the bottom of the artichoke, peel, and place in the bowl. Lay the artichoke on its side on a cutting board and cut off the top of the artichoke, revealing the top of the “choke,” which is inedible. With scissors, snip off the sharp spine from each leaf. With a sharp-edged spoon (a grapefruit spoon works well here), dig the choke out, scraping all of the fuzzy parts from the heart. This doesn't have to be perfect, but the more that's scraped out, the easier the heart will be to eat in the end. It does take some effort and patience. Once the artichoke is cleaned and trimmed, place into the bowl with lemon juice and water. Repeat with the remaining three artichokes.

Once the artichokes are prepped, remove one from the bowl and drain. Fill the center with the stuffing. Moving around the artichoke and using a small spoon, fill each leaf with stuffing. You'll have to spread the leaves out by hand to be able to fit stuffing amongst all of the leaves. This also takes some patience and the artichoke must be handled gently. Once the artichoke is filled, place onto the bottom of the pot. Repeat with the remaining three artichokes.

Once the artichokes are filled and in the stock pot, drizzle olive oil all over the artichokes. Fill the stock pot with vegetable broth until it comes halfway up the sides of the artichokes. Pour about 1/4 cup additional vegetable broth down the center of each artichoke to ensure that the stuffing is moistened. Remove the stems from the bowl and place around the artichokes in the pot.

Turn the heat below the stock pot onto medium high and cover. Once the broth is simmering, reduce the heat to medium and keep covered. Cook the artichokes until a leaf comes off easily when pulled, or about 45 minutes. Remove each artichoke from the pot gently with a large slotted spoon. Allow to cool slightly before eating. These also store and reheat very well.

Serve the artichokes with a dipping sauce, if desired. An easy one is to combine melted butter with an equal amount of vegetable broth from simmering the artichokes. Garlic aioli also complements artichokes very well. Eat the artichokes by removing a leaf, gripping by the top, and scrape your teeth to pull the "meat" off. It's terribly ungraceful and messy, but delicious! Once the leaves are gone, trim the heart and eat. The peeled stems also taste just like the heart.

1 comment:

miked999 said...

Why not just go over to your grandmother's house and make them with her???