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The first time I ever had an artichoke, my life was forever changed. Sound dramatic? Good, because I mean it. Then came the day I first had an old school Italian-stylestuffed artichoke at one of my favorite restaurants in Astoria, Queens Trattoria L'incontro. All I can say is mind-blowing. When it arrives at the table you roll up your sleeves, forget you are in a white tablecloth establishment and devour it without coming up for air. When you get to the cheesy center, fight whomever you are dining with to get that one perfect bite. When it’s gone, you’ll probably want to order another one. It’s fine, just do it; YOLO as the kids say.
Now since spending upwards of 30 dollars on artichokes is not a wise financial decision, I developed a similar version you can make easily at home. I would tell you that these make the perfect side dish, but I usually inhale two whole ‘chokes and call it a day.
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Yield: Serves or Makes 4
Prepare the artichokes. Using a sharp, serrated knife, trim the stem off the artichoke*. Pull any loose leaves off the bottom of the artichoke and discard. Trim about ½ inch off the tip of the artichoke to reveal the choke. Use kitchen shears to trim the points off all of the leaves on the outside of the artichoke. Using your fingers, pull the leaves of the artichoke apart to loosen the choke.
Use a spoon to scoop and discard the choke from the artichoke. You don’t want any fuzzy fibers left inside the artichoke.
Add the prepared artichokes cut side down to a large dutch oven and toss in lemon slices, sliced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Add water to reach ⅓ of the way up the artichokes and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender and a knife can easily be inserted into the bottom. Reserve cooking liquid.
While the artichokes steam, make the filling. Add butter and oil to a large skillet and place over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Deglaze the pan with ½ cup of wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, lemon juice and zest and kosher salt and black pepper. Stir until combined.
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Place steamed artichokes cut side up in a roasting pan or pie plate in which they snuggly fit. Pour ½ cup of reserved cooking water on top, followed by the remaining wine.
Add a 1 ounce piece of mozzarella into the heart of each artichoke and top with the prepared filling, packing the stuffing down as you fill. Place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
*Note: Don’t throw those artichokes stems away! You can peel the tough outer skin with a y-peeler and steam them with the whole artichokes until tender for a snack while the artichokes bake.