A is For

Artichoke.  Hey, everyone, let’s eat this giant thorn-like thistle! I can’t imagine who first figured how to cook and eat these things, but I’m glad they did.  Stuffed artichokes are one of those things, comfort food and a luxury at once.  Luxury because of the cost and the work involved.  I haven’t made them in a long time, but yesterday I was inspired.

I know people have different ways of cooking them, and some stuff while others just dip the leaves. My favorite is pretty much the way I first encountered them, a little tweak of the stuffing.  Trim the bottom stems, take off the toughest outer leaves at the base, trim the sharp points of of the leaves, and then cut off the top of the artichoke (about two inches straight across the top, through the layers). Apparently my knife really needs to be sharpened, because I couldn’t actually trim the tops until after part 1 of cooking them, which is steaming/boiling in a tall pot for about 20 minutes.  Throw a bit of white wine, or lemon juice, or white or red wine vinegar in the boiling water before you add the chokes.  Last night I used a champagne vinegar.

Post steam. I really botched trying to trim them with that dull knife beforehand.

Post steam. I really botched trying to trim them with that dull knife beforehand.

You have to let them cool a bit before moving on to the next step, I generally turn them upside down to make sure any water caught in the leaves drains out, helping them cool.

I make the stuffing mix while they’re steaming. Equal parts fresh bread crumbs and ground parmesan (a good one! yesterday I used some romano I had left and then parm), a handful of finely chopped walnuts, a few cloves minced garlic (at least one for each artichoke), snipped flat leaf (Italian) parsley and mint leaves, fresh ground pepper.

Mix it all up.

Mix it all up.

Now that your artichokes have cooled a bit, finish trimming any sharp points–last night this is when I chopped off more of the tops, use your hands to spread the leaves some, and remove the centermost leaves and the fuzzy part in the bottom center of each choke.

A grapefruit spoon would work best for removing the furry middle, I don't have one, and use a teaspoon.

A grapefruit spoon would work best for removing the furry middle, I don’t have one, and use a teaspoon.

Beginning in the middle, start stuffing, pushing out as you go, so the mix spreads out, and gets through all the layers, a nice coating on each leaf.  I overstuffed last night.  Place each artichoke on each stem, standing straight up in a baking dish.  Put an inch or two of water at the bottom of the dish/pan, I also squeeze half a lemon in the water.  Drizzle a little olive oil over all.

I like a tight fit so they don't fall over.

I like a tight fit so they don’t fall over.

Tent aluminum foil over the whole thing, so steam will be created and cook everything further as it bakes. In the oven at 375° for about 40 minutes.

Enjoy, one leaf at a time, scraping the stuffing and soft bottom of each leaf off with your teeth, leaving a “shell.”

It's possible I ate so much I put myself into a carb coma last night.  Possible.

It’s possible I ate so much I put myself into a carb coma last night. Possible.

 

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18 comments

  1. Artichokes are always visually appealing to me, perhaps because of their thistle-ness.

    I’ve really only had artichokes in the context of spinach-artichoke dish. I do have a jar of baby ones in my cabinet, though, for that elusive night I look at what I’ve got to cook with and go “Yes. Today is when I employ the artichokes. And perhaps white beans.”

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    1. Ah, you’ve had artichoke hearts, but not the actual leaves. Well, the part of the leaves that are edible.

      Hmmm, artichoke hearts and white beans. Garlic and olive oil, a little white wine, maybe some broth, broccolini, capers,over linguine. Dinner! 😀

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      1. I’m not into capers, but I’m truly a broccoli hound nowadays. And putting stuff over pasta (or rice!) is my M.O. ^^

        Also, it occurs to me that using kitchen shears might be good, if knives be dull (I really should learn to sharpen my knives. Menfolk are not always around when I realize my knives need it).

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        1. I would go with broccolini instead of broccoli for this. 🙂

          Yes, I use kitchen shears to trim the sharp points off, but to cut through the many layers to get that top couple of inches off, a sharp knife is required. 🙂

          I’ve got a sharpening steel that I can and do use, but it doesn’t come close to a professional sharpening. Any luck I’ll get mine done before chopping a finger off. 😉

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  2. I knew I wanted to eat your supper last night. That looks so good. The weird part is, I never had artichokes. I don’t even know if I’ve ever even touched an artichoke. It’s one of those foods that seems exotic. Kind of like asparagus, but with attitude. A little intimidating, at least, it used to be before a certain savvy writer/culinary queen showed us how to tame the savage, sharp-leafed beast.

    Now I’m hungry again and I just ate, dang it.

    🙂

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    1. Interesting, I never thought of them as exotic. 🙂 That is one of the nice things about NY, there’s always been (long before the cooking channels and foodie explosion) easy access to many types of foods and produce.

      LOL, now you’re ready to try–go quick, this is the tail end of artichoke season 😉

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  3. Re- end of Arti’s season, thx. for the hot tip, Mrs Fringe. As for living in NY, yeah, you guys have champagne vinegar over there. We have, let me look . . . okay, we have white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. That’s the dif. twixt living in blue collar suburbia and living on the cosmopolitan Fringe.

    Or maybe I’m just shopping in the wrong aisle.

    😀

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  4. Love artichokes. Never stuffed them before but your recipe and photos to illustrate it make my mouth water. Almost dinner time here and nothing ready. Probably not your artichokes tonight but thank you very much for sharing. Bon appetit!

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