09 December 2012

'Tis Tasty 5 - Stuffed Artichoke

Stuffed Artichoke

Select medium to large artichokes. Make sure they are green and avoid those with brown spots. Artichokes are seasonal and the best can be difficult to find when out of season.

Based on number and size of artichokes reduces specific measurements of the two main ingredients to a personal judgement call.

Italian seasoned bread crumbs and freshly grated Romano cheese and/or Parmigiano cheese are primary ingredients. Good olive oil is a third ingredient.

Mix bread crumbs and grated cheese in a 50-50 ratio.

Prepare artichokes by snipping off the prickly points of every leaf. Cut stem to a maximum 1-inch length. 

Next turn artichoke top down and "squish" against a hard surface to open closed leaves. Cover whole vegetable in salty water to drive out any bugs that might be hiding within. Leave covered in salty water for several minutes.

Turn top side down on a clean dishtowel so all moisture can drain out of pre-soaked artichoke.

Next...beginning at the bottom...put in the grated cheese and seasoned bread crumb mixture into the inside of every leaf. Continue stuffing the artichoke all way to the top and add a little more mix on top.

Drizzle olive oil all over the stuffed artichoke to "settle the dust" but mainly to help serve as a binder to hold dry mixture in place.

Place stuffed artichokes stem side (bottom) down in a steamer with enough water to cover stem and create steam but not enough to wet the stuffing. Cover steamer pot and put on medium heat. When you can pull off a stuffed leaf with minimal effort the artichoke is ready to eat.

Serve on a small plate or even special artichoke dishes that have a place for melted butter for guests.

The stuffed leaf is best when dipped in garlic butter. Being finger food, drag the upside-down leaf over the teeth to get both the stuffing and "meat" of the leaf off in a single move.

Once all the leaves have been eaten and you have reached the "choke" you can remove the fuzzy "choke" and dip small pieces of the artichoke heart in the garlic butter. That part alone is heaven.

I love 'em hot and I love 'em cold. I even love 'em for breakfast or a late night snack. 

There are beaucoup recipes for stuffed artichoke, but this is a family favorite. It came from a Cajun-Italian family in southwest Louisiana many years ago and I see no need to reinvent the perfect wheel.

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