Stuffed Artichokes

I’ve often said that stuffed artichokes are at the top of my favorite food list and with good reason.  If done correctly, the combination of breadcrumbs, garlic, cheese, herbs, and olive oil will make you swoon.  If done poorly…..well, as sacreligious as it may be, I think it’s best to just dispose of the poor thing and put it out of its misery.  You see, when it comes to stuffed artichokes, it’s definitely all about the stuffing.  I’ve had my fair share of deliciously stuffed artichokes, and unfortunately, I’ve had some really, really bad ones.  This is my favorite mixture, thus far, and the stuffing is just so good you’ll be tempted to use as a breading or in your meatloaf – don’t use it in your meatballs, because the cooking time for a meatball isn’t long enough to soften the celery, even when it’s minced – trust me on this.
I know the recipe seems involved; however, you don’t have to do everything in one day.  Make the stuffing the day before you plan to stuff the artichokes, but trim the artichokes the day you plan to stuff them.
Stuffed Artichokes
4 cleaned and trimmed artichokes
4 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely minced parsley
1 cup finely minced celery
4 tablespoons finely minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 – 1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup +2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Water and additional olive oil for steaming
In a very large bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, celery, garlic, salt and pepper, set aside.
Trim and clean artichokes.
Trimmed artichoke ready for stuffing.

Above is a cleaned and trimmed artichoke.  The thorny tips have been snipped, the pointy top has been trimmed, the stem has been cut, the bottom leaves have been removed, and it’s taken a dip in acidulated water.  Before stuffing, cup artichoke in your palm, turn it upside down, and tap it onto a clean towel, removing as much water as possible.  Place upside down on a clean towel.

Tear 4 pieces of foil, about 3″ wide.  Fold foil into a square and form a small cup around bottom-half of artichoke.  Make four of these and set aside.
You’re now ready to stuff the artichokes!
Place an artichoke in the bowl of stuffing, and using your hands, gently spread the outer leaves to stuff each leaf with stuffing.  I use my fingers to scoop and stuff.  Turn the artichoke as you stuff the leaves, going around until you reach the trimmed top of the artichoke.  Place one of the foil cups around the bottom half of the artichoke.  Place stuffed artichoke into the large Dutch oven with an inch of water and 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil; proceed stuffing the other three artichokes, placing all in the Dutch oven.
This is a stuffed artichoke prior to steaming.
Slowly pour 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on each artichoke, once the first tablespoon is absorbed, pour another tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on each artichoke, for a total of 2 tablespoons.
Bring water to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Cook artichokes, covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, and pour another 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over each artichoke, using same procedure as previously described.  If the water seems low, add more water and return to stove, cooking another 30 minutes or until an inner leaf can be pulled out easily.  Remove from stove.
Allow to cool until you can touch them without burning your fingers and then place them in a large serving platter for everyone to help themselves.  Enjoy!

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