Stuffed Artichokes

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There is no better recipe for me to share with you than my grandma’s stuffed artichokes. Nini, as we called her, was  a consummate Italian grandma.  Her basement was filled with drying racks that were always laden with home-made pasta, just waiting to be packaged. She made her own tortellini from scratch and I kick myself regularly that I was never cool enough to want to learn when she was alive.  She always had real Italian salami, the kind with the big peppers in it, a huge carafe of wine in her pantry that my grandpa used every night at dinner, jars of figs, loaves of white Italian bread, and jars of home-made spaghetti sauce. And when my grandpa, Nono, and her were having a heated conversation, it was in Italian.

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One of her hallmark dishes was stuffed artichokes.  She made them as a side-dish with veal, spaghetti, eggplant, and pretty much just for no reason other than we could all eat our weight in them.  My dad is still a rock-star at making them and we are sure to get a batch going every summer when we’re up at the cottage that we rent.  They are the MOST delicious!

Here’s what you need:

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  • One artichoke per person (about).
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs per artichoke.  I use the Italian bread crumbs for some extra flavor, but it’s not necessary.
  • About 1/2 cup of grated parmesan per artichoke.
  • A little bit of tomato sauce–about 1/4 cup.
  • Olive oil.

Step 1:

Prepare the artichokes.  Trim about  1/2 inch off the top of the artichokes, then trim the rough and sharp leaves from the outside of the artichoke (1-2 layers of leaves).  You can use a knife or kitchen scissor for this.  Lastly, cut the stem down so the artichoke can almost sit flat on your work surface.

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Step 2:

Pre-cook the artichokes.  You’ll want to steam them a bit in a pan with about 1/2 cup of water so that they’re easier to work with later.  Let them steam for about fifteen minutes.

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Step 3:

Mix your bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, a bit of tomato sauce, and a few tablespoons of olive oil together.  You’ll really need to eye this.  The consistency of your mixture should be a little sticky, but mostly dry.  You don’t want it to be as wet as cookie dough.

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Step 4:

Take your steamed artichokes out of the pan and gently pull them apart just enough so you can stuff the leaves.

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Step 5:

Stuff  your artichokes.  Generously spoon your bread crumb mixture into the artichoke.      Shove as much of it as you can deep down into the leaves.  Don’t worry about being too neat with this process–there is no such thing as too much stuffing here.

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Step 6:

This step is touchy.  Place your artichokes in a pan, drizzle a little tomato sauce on top of them, cover, and simmer your artichokes in a mixture of water, olive oil, and tomato sauce that never gets lower than the bottom fourth of the artichoke.  You’ll need to baste them every ten minutes or so and probably add some more water, and olive oil on occasion. To get the stuffing to turn into a custard like consistency you’ll need to simmer the artichokes for about an hour and a half.

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Step 7:

Once the cheese is melted and gooey and the stuffing can be scraped off the artichoke with your teeth when you sit down to eat them you’re good.  Unfortunately–these are about the least sexy thing to watch someone eat.  Something about putting a leaf in your mouth and scraping it with your teeth and building a pile of discarded artichoke leaves on your plate does not a beautiful eater make–but you won’t care!  Because these are amazing!

Post by Maggie Terryn : Mom Colored Glasses