Sunday, June 14, 2015

How to Stuff an Artichoke

Back in the day, I loved going to school. When I was in college I went to school for five years. Straight. Spring semester, fall semester, interim semester, summer semester, year round. Eventually my advisor called me into his office and asked me to graduate. I had accumulated so many credit hours that they didn't know how to categorize me. So, with the deepest of regrets, I did. I ended up with a double major in English and communications, and minors in geology, psychology, and music. (I won't mention that years later I returned to attend graduate school.)

The summer of my college graduation I was a bit bereft. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do without a class to attend. At about that same time a catalog from the local community college arrived in the mail, and I spotted a class for, brace yourself, Gourmet Barbecue. Well, naturally, I signed up. This was an adult education class, meaning, that the average age was about 45. Because, at least at that time, men were mainly interested in barbecuing, I was the only female in the class, young and with youthful enthusiasm and vitality. As word got out, wives began to attend future classes with their husbands, something that still makes me smile.
I learned a lot of things in that class, one of which was how to stuff an artichoke. (Gourmet Barbecue, remember? This was to be steamed in a pot over an open fire.) I hadn't really thought about that class in a long while until Mr. O-P came home with a giant globe artichoke just perfect for stuffing. In class we had stuffed it with a shrimp-filled stuffing, but as I had none on hand, I went with a similar version in which I substituted salami (which may seem questionable, but is actually quite good).
This is a recipe that you can really change up in any way that you see fit, and customize to your own taste. The important elements are bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and lots of herbs for flavor. Here is the recipe that I used and that filled the entire artichoke. The wary Mr. O-P who balked at eating it, and doubted it would serve as a meal (it did, it is very filling) ended up gobbling it down. The taste is quite similar to carciofi fritti, the deep fried artichokes served in Italian restaurants.
The steaming liquid is almost as important as the filling, so do make it as complex as possible in order to impart delicious flavor into the artichoke while it is steaming. Also, if you don't have a little artichoke stand to put in your steaming pot, get one. They are invaluable when it comes to keeping the artichoke upright during the cooking process.

How to Trim an Artichoke:

Cut off artichoke base stem and discard.  Using a serrated knife, cut off about an inch of the top of the artichoke; discard. Using a sharp kitchen shears, cut of the pointed tip of each of the leaves.  Rub base, top, and leaf tips with a cut lemon.

Bang artichoke onto the counter to loosen up the leaves.  Separate the artichoke and pull out the center leaves, and prickly choke.  Use a melon baller or grapefruit spoon to remove the entire choke.  Squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the cavity to prevent browning.

How to Stuff an Artichoke:

Begin by filling the center cavity with stuffing.  Then, working from the bottom up, carefully spread each leaf away from the body of the artichoke and place a generous teaspoon of stuffing inside.  Continue until all leaves have been stuffed.

Stuffing Mixture (Fills one large globe artichoke):

¾ cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped Provolone cheese
1 clove garlic, finely minced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 – 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup finely diced salami
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix ingredient together in a medium mixing bowl until well blended.  Stuff artichoke. Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil before placing into steaming pan.

Steaming Liquid:

½ cup water
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Place all ingredients into the bottom of a 4-quart saucepan.  Carefully set stuffed artichoke onto stand or into pan.  Bring liquid to a boil over medium high heat.  Cover pot with lid, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 50-55 minutes.
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Linda said...

Really enjoyed the story with this recipe. I had no idea you loved school so much. :) Looking back, I was just in a hurry to get my degree and get married - and I ended up getting married during my senior year. Don't regret the marriage, but I do regret not savoring my college years and studies more.

I've never cooked an artichoke nor had anything to do with them other than making the ubiquitous artichoke-spinach dip, so this is a real education for me. You would even have to show me how to eat it! It looks delicious, and I think the salami is genius.

Marigene said...

OMG, that looks and sounds delicious...I am practically drooling! My husband doesn't like artichokes so I doubt I would take the time to make it for myself, but I sure would eat one. Maybe I could do it for one of my girlfriend luncheons if enough liked them.