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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stuffed Artichokes

This recipe is long overdue and at the request of my friend Dena.  Enjoy!
Prior to commencing this recipe, I want to make sure that you are aware how to properly prepare an artichoke for cooking.  I have watched this on television and read about it in books, but it seems that they all trim away too much of these expensive little treats.  As such, through the years, I have continued to prepare them the way my grandmother and mother did.

Cut away the stem so that the artichoke sits flat on the work board.  Turn the artichoke on its side and with a sharp knife cut away the top 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches of the Artichoke.  Be careful because the artichoke can prick you.  While the artichoke is still on its side, use the palm of your hand and roll it back and force placing slight pressure on it.  This will allow it to open up easier for cleaning and stuffing.   Stand the artichoke upright again and work the center open with your thumbs holding the artichoke in the palm of your hands.  Once you have opened it, you will see the small pyramid of lightly colored leaves down in the center. Cut around that pyramid with a paring knife and then use a spoon to remove that portion.  It is prickly and inedible.

Run each artichoke under cold water rinsing it thoroughly.  Allow the water to rinse the inside and outside of the artichoke.  Turn the rinsed artichokes upside down and allow them to drain while you prepare the stuffing.

Stuffed Artichokes

6 Medium sized Artichokes cleaned and prepared as described above
1 Large Dried Bay Leaf
2 Large Peeled whole Garlic Cloves
The Juice of one large lemon
3 Cups of Vegetable Stock
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup of Water

Stuffing Mixture
1 Large Garlic Clove finely minced
1 Cup of Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (For Regular diets use regular bread crumbs)
1/4 Cup grated Reggio Parmigiano Cheese
1/4 Cup Dried Italian Parsley
3 Tblspn. Dried Basil
1 Tblspn. Dried Oregano
1/2 Tspn. Sea Salt
1/2 Tspn. Black Pepper
2 Tblspn. Sliced Black Olives (Optional)
2 Tblspn. Chopped Mushrooms (Optional)
1 Tblspn. Capers (Optional)
4 Tblspn. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Add Garlic and all dried ingredients (except artichokes) in a bowl and mix with a spoon to incorporate ingredients.  Drizzle 3 Tblspn. of extra virgin olive oil into mixture and continue stirring. 

Turn Artichokes right side up and liberally sprinkle sea salt over them.  (Approximately 1/2 tspn. divided among the 6 artichokes.)  Stuff the center of each artichoke with the mixture until each is filled to the top.  I also use a tablespoon to work the stuffing into the leaves cascading downward toward the base of the artichoke.

Pour the Vegetable Stock, Dry White Wine, lemon juice and Water into a large Saucier.  Add the dried Bay leaf and garlic.  Add the Artichokes so that they are standing upright.  Drizzle the tops of the artichokes with additional remaining olive oil.  Cook over medium high heat until the artichokes are tender.  The cooking time on this will vary depending on the tenderness of the artichokes, but usually takes approximately 2 hours.  You will know when the artichokes are done by testing a leave.  I pull a leaf from half way up the artichoke.  You will know it is done if the leaf comes off easily and the pulp/meat of the artichoke is tender and releases from the leaf easily.

During the cooking process, check your fluid levels often.  Initially, your fluid level will cover 1/2 to 3/4 of the artichokes and will evaporate during the cooking process.  If the level falls to less than 1/3 of the height of the artichokes add additional water to increase the level to 1/2 way up the artichokes.

Once the artichokes are tender, remove them from the saucier and place them in an oven/broiler safe casserole and place them under the broiler for approximately 2 minutes until the top of the suffing is lightly golden.

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