The winning dish from last week’s poll was “Something Seasonal” by a pretty close margin, but I was happy to see that it won. Something seasonal is fairly easy in July, but I used it as an opportunity to make something that I’ve been wanting to make for a while: stuffed artichokes.
Artichokes are hands down one of my favorite veggies even with all their annoying prep work. I was skeptical that stuffing the artichokes would be better than just steaming the guys and eating them with butter, but I think I’m a convert.
I mean come on. Just look at these things.
I’m not going to lie to you, this recipe takes some time to prepare. Not an insane amount of time or anything, but probably 30-45 minutes just because the artichokes are kind of cumbersome, especially if you haven’t worked with them before. Totally worth it though in my opinion.
As an appetizer, you could easily split one of these with another person. I’ll admit though that when I made these I had two of them in one sitting which probably bordered on approximately 4,000,000 calories. It’s cool though. I had a lite beer to counteract the effects of the calories.
1) Chop up the tomatoes and the basil. Combine the basil, tomatoes, bread crumbs, cheese, and one clove of crushed garlic in a large pan. Season with salt and pepper. Mix it all up!
2) Prep the artichokes Cut the stems off. Cut about the top inch or so off the artichoke.
3) Get your fingers in the middle of the artichoke and pry it open until you expose the pinkish spiky center leaves.
4) Cut out the center (a paring knife, a grapefruit spoon or spork would work).
5) Stuff the artichoke! Start at the center, filling the big hole, and work your way out. Make sure to pull apart the leaves and get the stuffing down in between each leaf.
6) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cast Iron Method – Start by sautéing 1 clove of chopped garlic in a Tablespoon of oil over high heat for a minute or two and then add 3 cups of water, 1 1/2 Cups of white wine, the juice of a lemon, and a pinch of salt.
Once this comes to a boil, nestle the four artichokes in the liquid, cover the pan, and stick it in the oven for 50 minutes. Then take off the cover and cook it for another 10 minutes.
Baking Dish Method – If you don’t have a cast iron pan, prepare the liquid in a normal pan, bringing it to a boil, and then pour it into a normal baking dish and sit the artichokes upright in the dish. Cover the whole thing with foil and cook for 50 minutes. Take off the foil and cook for another 10 minutes.
I made my stuffing first which basically just involves chopping up the tomatoes and the basil and mixing everything together.
Be sure to take your time on the tomatoes. You don’t want any enormous chunks in the final product. Combine the basil, tomatoes, bread crumbs, cheese, and one clove of crushed garlic in a large pan. Season with salt and pepper. I probably used about a Teaspoon and a half of each.
Mix it all up!
On to the subject at hand, these bastards:
To prep these for stuffing we need to do four things:
1) Cut the stems off. Yes there is some good artichoke meat in the stems but they have to go if you want your artichoke to sit up nice and tall while it is cooking. And trust me, you do. Otherwise your stuffing will just fall out. (Artichoke at 12 o’ clock in the below photo.)
2) Cut about the top inch or so off the artichoke. I hope you have a decent knife because the leaves are pretty tough. (Photo at 9 o’ clock.)
3) Get your fingers in the middle of the artichoke and pry it open. Don’t worry about being gentle. This thing is stronger than you. It’s ok if a few of the leaves split also. Really work to pry the leaves open though because we are going to stuff deliciousness between all the individual leaves. Eventually, you will expose the pinkish spiky center leaves. (Photo at 3 o’ clock.)
4) Now you need to cut out the center which is not an easy task. Not only are the leaves tough, but there are a lot of them and about a million little thistle things way down inside. I’ll just say this: Whoever first figured out you could eat these things was really hungry.
Ok. I’m exaggerating. It isn’t that bad. If you have a grapefruit spoon (or maybe a Spork?) you can make pretty quick work of the job. Or if you have a good paring knife just cut around the inside in a circle and then scoop out all the insides with a spoon. Again, don’t worry about being gentle. (Photo at 6 o’ clock.)
I would say it probably took me 5 minutes for the first artichoke, but I got pretty fast at it after that. It’s a pretty quick learning curve once you realize the goal. Also, on the thistle thing, there will be a bunch. Don’t worry about getting every single one. They will basically dissolve when it cooks. Get as many as you can though.
This was my garbage for just four artichokes.
Stuff the thing!
Now that your choke is ready and your stuffing is ready, you know what to do! Basically start at the center, filling the big hole, and work your way out. You shouldn’t really have any leftover stuffing if you are using four artichokes. Make sure to pull apart the leaves and get the stuffing down in between each leaf. There is no better tool than your hands to get this job done.
Cooking this monstrosity
There are two ways you can cook these guys. Either way you need to start by preheating your oven to 375.
Cast Iron Method – If you have a 7 quart cast iron Dutch Oven then you are in luck as it can go from stove top to oven. Start by sauteeing 1 clove of chopped garlic in a Tablespoon of oil over high heat for a minute or two and then add 3 cups of water, 1 1/2 Cups of white wine, the juice of a lemon, and a pinch of salt.
Once this comes to a boil, nestle your four artichokes in the liquid, cover your pan, and stick it in the oven for 50 minutes. Then take off the cover and cook it for another 10 minutes.
Baking Dish Method – If you don’t have a cast iron pan, prepare the liquid in a normal pan, bringing it to a boil, and then pour it into a normal baking dish and sit your artichokes upright in the dish. Cover the whole thing with foil and cook for 50 minutes. Take off the foil and cook for another 10 minutes.
No matter which method you use, your house will start smelling amazing around minute 27. After one hour you will have something like this:
You’ll have to be gentle because literally, the leaves just fall off. So tender and delicious.
It’s really fun to eat because you get to use each leaf as a spoon for the filling and then just scrape out the artichoke meat on the leaf with your teeth. While these were some work, I think they were 100% worth it. One of the best appetizers I’ve made I think.