Remember when we contemplated the first meal cooked in our new apartment? Well, this was it. A little off-the-beaten-path for us, but it's an old family recipe that we'd been wanting to make...
We love steaming artichokes and pulling off the leaves one by one to scrape between our teeth. But other than that, we rarely cook big, baseball-sized artichokes. So we loved the way this recipe highlighted their beautiful, floral shape, with stuffing tucked in every layer, ready to be scooped up with the leaves.
There is one warning to this recipe. It is full of anchovies. Now, before you stop reading, hear this: We're not fans of anchovies on pizza and we rarely order them at tapas restaurants. The flavor they give this stuffing (comprised primarily of anchovies, oil, and breadcrumbs) is deep and very salty, but it's not too fishy.
Of course, if you hate anchovies, this recipe isn't for you. But if you eat them every once in a while, we recommend trying this dish. Other than the artichokes, you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry.
Cooking artichokes takes some time, and you'll need about an hour for this recipe. You boil the artichokes before stuffing them, then baking them in the oven. But we promise that the slow process of peeling off the meaty leaves, mounded with filling, and eating them one at a time makes it all worth it.
Note: We're giving you the measurements for one artichoke, which you can then multiply for however many you need.
makes one artichoke
1 medium to large artichoke (about the size of a baseball)
1 2-ounce can of anchovy fillets in oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off the stem of each artichoke so that it sits flat on a counter. Cut off the top 3/4 to 1 inch of each artichoke, then use kitchen shears to trim the tip off of each leaf. They should look like this:
Place the artichokes in a medium sauce pan filled with salted water (see above). The artichokes will float, so place a heatproof bowl on top to weight them down, like this:
Put the pan over medium to high heat, bring the artichokes to a slow boil, and cook them for about 25 minutes. When you can pluck away a bottom leaf with only a slight tug, remove the pan from the heat.
While the artichokes are boiling, prepare the stuffing. In a sauté pan, combine the garlic, anchovies, including the oil in the anchovy can, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat over medium heat, stirring the mixture until the anchovies are broken down and the oil is heated through.
Add the breadcrumbs, stirring to combine. You want the mixture to look like wet sand. If it's too dry, add another tablespoon of oil. If the oil is not well incorporated, add more breadcrumbs. It should look like this:
Once the artichokes are finished boiling, rinse them under cold water until they are easy to handle, then place them upside-down on a dish towel to drain for a minute.
Place the artichokes in a baking dish and gently "fluff" or separate the leaves so you have room to add stuffing. Use a small spoon to tuck stuffing in between each leaf, and mound a bit on top at the end.
Bake the artichokes for about 15 minutes, until the stuffing browns on top. To eat, pull of the leaves and scrape the meat off with your bottom teeth. When you get to the artichoke heart, use a knife to cut out the clump of soft spikes that make up the choke, then slice and eat the heart with any remaining stuffing scattered on your plate.
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)