Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Appetizer With Heart

Since my brother was hosting Christmas Dinner at his house and was responsible for the main meal, several appetizers and dessert, I was asked to bring Stuffed Artichokes. My father used to make these often and as with everything else he did, they were fabulous. So with that on my side, I thought I'd tackle them for my appetizer contribution. I didn't use his recipe, but I was very happy with the way they turned out. Since I had twelve artichokes, I just doubled the recipe.

Stuffed Artichokes

6 artichokes
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons crab boil
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped oregano leaves
1 1/2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided
Salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the stems from the artichokes to leave a neat, flat base. Lay each artichoke on its side, and cut away the upper third with a sharp knife. With kitchen shears, remove the prickly leaf tips from each remaining leaf. Rub the cut sides and bottom with a lemon slice, squeezing lemon juice onto the cut areas and set aside.

3. Place the prepared artichokes, lemon slices, crab boil and bay leaves in the boiling water and simmer, partially covered, until the bottom is tender and can be pierced with a sharp knife and an outer leaf pulls out easily, about 25 minutes.
I used the Zatarain's Shrimp & Crab Boil. It comes in a bag, like a satchet, that you just throw in the water. I've never used anything like this, but I got this recipe from Emeril and he uses this kind of thing frequently in his cooking, so I figured it had to be good.

I used a huge pot that we had from the restaurant my step-father used to own. As you can see from the picture above, it's more than twice the size of the 5 quart dutch oven. This is my favorite photo of the group. I love how beautiful the artichokes look, all green and gorgeous as they float among the lemon slices.

4. Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. To the onion pan, add the garlic and oregano and continue to cook for thirty seconds.

I tried to get a picture of this step, but it didn't make a really great shot because the steam kept fogging up my lens. This part's easy though, since you're just mixing in the rest of the ingredients for the stuffing.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, lemon zest, Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Mix well and adjust seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

6. Drain the artichokes upside down in a colander.

7. When the artichokes are cool enough to handle, press the leaves gently back so that the artichoke opens to reveal the inner choke and prickly leaves. 8. Pull out the cone of undeveloped white leaves and gently scrape out the choke with a spoon so as not to damage the heart. Gently pull the leaves outward from the center until the leaves open slightly.

9. Fill the artichoke cavities with bread stuffing, and pack a little bit into the space between the leaves.

These artichokes were huge, so I actually had to make more stuffing to make sure I got enough in the outer leaves. Look at that gorgeous little artichoke heart.

10. Place the artichokes in an earthenware baking dish and drizzle the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

11. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the dish and place in oven. Bake until the artichokes are golden brown and the bread crumbs develop a nice crust, about 10 to 15 minutes.

12. Transfer to a serving plate, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle some grated Parmesan. Serve with additional lemon wedges.

The only thing left to do is enjoy! And because you eat this appetizer leaf by leaf, the deliciousness seems to last forever.

HERE for a printable version of the recipe.

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Angelic Eddie Friday
Would You Like A Fried Egg With A Side Of Influenza?
The Best Gift Of All


gems4me said...

I remember my Italian grandma and aunts making these for the holidays. YUM!

Gil said...

Sounds yummy! They sure were some huge artichokes. We haven't had them in a few years.

Laura said...

Omg, these look delicious! We don't have artichokes in Transylvania, so it took 39 years until I discovered them in California.LOL
Fell in love with their taste!

I'll definitely try this recipe.:)
Thanks for sharing.