We're in the cold heart of winter right now, and many of us are yearning for signs of a coming spring. One good idea would be to sneak a few warm weather treats into our winter diet. Chef Jerry Pellegrino has been enjoying one such treat—artichokes.
During the summer months, you can find locally grown artichokes which are quite good. But during the winter we turn to warmer climates like California.
Many people are perplexed by the artichoke, which looks like a ball of spiky leaves surrounding a fuzzy core that looks like thistle down. It's perfectly fine to peel off the most gnarly of the outer leaves, but the more tender inner ones hold the goodness. One simply breaks off a cooked artichoke leaf, dips it in butter or a sauce, and the scrapes of the fleshy bottom part with your teeth. The flavor is mild but exotic, and it does evoke bright sunshine and balmy temperatures.
Artichokes are most often braised in a liquid of boiling water and seasonings.
They can be cooked plain, or stuffed. And this recipe from Jerry is for the latter.
(adapted from simplyrecipes.com)
2 large globe artichokes
4 slices lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 slices lemon
2 cloves garlic, halved
- Make the stuffing: In a large bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, chopped parsley, minced oregano, 1/2 cup olive oil, and black pepper. Set aside.
- Prep the artichokes: Cut off the stem, leaving 1/2 inch from the bottom row of leaves. Using kitchen scissors, cut off 1/2-inch of the tips of all of the artichoke leaves.
- Cut 1 inch from the top of the artichoke. (It helps to use a serrated knife like a bread knife for this.)
- Take a slice of lemon and rub over the cut edges of the artichokes to keep them from turning brown.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Stuff the artichokes: Use your finger to gently pull open the center leaves of the artichokes. Pull out the inner tender yellow artichoke leaves. Use a small metal spoon to scrape and scoop out all of the inner fuzzy choke.
- Note that removing the choke at this stage isn't entirely necessarily, and it does require some elbow grease. That said, it makes eating the stuffed artichoke a much easier, and more enjoyable experience.
- Place artichokes on a sheet pan (to catch the breadcrumbs) and start stuffing the artichoke with your stuffing mix. Put some stuffing mix between each large leaf and the artichoke, as well as a generous amount in the center.
- Bake the artichokes: Put about 1-inch of boiling water in the bottom of a Dutch oven that will snugly hold the artichokes. Add 2 slices of lemon, a bay leaf, 2 cloves garlic to the water.
- Place the artichokes sitting upright in the water. Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil.
- Cover the pot tightly with a lid. (Remember to cover the dish or this method will not work!)
- Bake for 1 hour at 375°F (190°C), or until a knife easily penetrates the heart of the artichoke or you can easily remove one of the outer petals. (Depending on the size of the artichoke baking time can vary from 50 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or longer.)
- Remove the cover and broil for a minute or so, enough to get some browning on the top of the stuffing.
- Remove artichokes to a serving dish to serve.