You may have heard that artichokes are an aphrodisiacs? That’s why this week I am finally getting around to sharing the Italian Stuffed Artichokes for Valentines Day. Over New Years in Milan the artichokes were huge and abundant at every market and grocery store. Since they are a “festive” specialty and it was still holiday season I really wanted to learn to cook them properly. I have always wondered what I was doing wrong with my whole steamed artichokes which never seemed to be worth all the hype. The answer is that a boring old steamed artichoke isn’t really worth all the hype, but a stuffed artichoke slowly bathed in hot olive oil is definitely worth the hype! So check out the photo tutorial and the recipe below.
I think part of my problem is the I really believe artichokes are beautiful and I never peeled back enough layers. I now realize my hesitation for waist was not helping the pleasure of artichoke eating. If your lucky you keep about 1/2 the artichoke. Truth is, that most of the flower gets peeled away and cut off and whats left is tender and meaty.
Another tip: The stems are delicious! Peel back the stems to the round tender center and voila you have tender bite-sized artichoke sticks.
Oh and when you finish cleaning and cutting an artichoke immediately place it in a bath of cold water and lemon juice to prevent discoloration. You know how potatoes and avocados turn brown when exposed to air, that same thing happens to artichokes – 10 times faster! You can watch it happen in seconds! AND it does the same thing to your hands so wear gloves or clean them with lemon juice after.
The filling is a combination of roughly chopped parsley, garlic, and an anchovy (I might add 2-3 next time for a stronger flavor- DON’T be squeamish and regret it later!)
After the prep-work is finished then its time to bath them in olive oil.
The pot should be large enough for all the artichokes to fit comfortably. My friends father owns a farm in Italy where she gets loads of beautiful virgin olive oil, she liberally poured in several inches and then added about an equal amount of water- the chokes were about 1/2 way submerged.
Cover the pot with a stiff paper towel first and then the lid. I am not sure what this does exactly but it’s part of the ancient secret recipe that has been passed down through her big Italian family for generations and now it belongs to you!!!!
Large Fat Artichokes – at least one per person- (this recipe will make 3)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon anchovy paste or a few whole anchovies
1 clove garlic crushed
olive oil to cook
Clean artichokes hollowing out the center. Combined the parsley, anchovy, and garlic and stuff the filling into the center of the artichoke using your finger tips. Place the artichoke top down into the small pot with 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 water. Low boil with paper-towel on top of pot and lid covering it for about 45 min. Cooking time will depend largely on how big the artichokes are. Test or for tenderness. Salt and pepper to taste.