artichokes have been the unexpected comfort food of my life. in third grade we all had to tell the class what our favorite food was and after 23 pizza/hamburger/candy answers, i stood up, face flushed, and muttered “artichoke” but for a split second i wanted to change my answer to nachos to avoid the blank stares and gasps. the teacher’s eyes lit up and with a big toothy grin and hands clasped at her chest, she asked me to tell the class what an artichoke is. oh, the horror.
it’s funny to think about things like that - to remember what it’s like to be a kid and how vividly certain things stick to our brains.
however, artichokes have graced our family table for as long as i can remember. they were “special occasion” foods or sunday dinner because of the long prep and cooking times. my husband thinks they’re ridiculous. all that work for such a small bit of food… but it’s a process. the process is what is so filling - so fulfilling. as i got older and ventured into fixing chokes myself, i used the same recipe my mother and grandmother used. i slowly began adding and subtracting and tweaking to my own tastes and have come up with my very own recipe. my mom has been trying to get all the girls together for an artichoke cooking day (to teach my step-sister & sister-in-law about the family food) and it prompted me to consider getting my recipe on paper and into the hands of fellow artichoke lovers.
this recipe is for two large artichokes
aren’t they lovely?
to begin… dunk the chokes in a sink of cold water or a bowl large enough. we like ‘em clean.
next, the trimming.
with a very sharp knife, hold the artichoke firmly on it’s side with one hand and slice about 1 1/2” off the top, removing most of the prickly ends. next, using kitchen shears, clip the remaining leaf tips to remove the pricks. (these veggies are dangerous!)
slice the stem off using a sharp knife and either discard, or trim. my mother loves artichoke stems - and you might, too!
now, for the filling. grab your cheese, garlic salt, breadcrumbs, and garlic (quantities listed below), dump them into a mixing bowl and toss with your hands.
see how you can pull the leaf forward? it’s a good pocket for stuffing.
grab just a pinch of the filling and stuff into the leaf pockets about two leaf rows from the bottom. those bottom leaves are gonna see water for cooking and your filling will end up in the pot. make your way all the way around stuffing all the thick green leaves.
drizzle 1 tbsp of melted butter on top of each, focusing on the center where there isn’t any stuffing & grind some fresh black pepper on there, too.
i have this giant pan gifted to me years ago that happens to house up to four chokes at once. the key here is width, and if you can get a lid on - bonus. if not? tent in foil for cooking. you must bring the water to a simmer and leave it there for 2-4 hours depending on your artichokes. some of them can be a little tough and need more cook time. to check for done-ness, pull a leaf from the choke near the bottom. it should nearly fall off in your hand (oh, and taste it of course. i’m sure you’re starved.)
here is the knitty gritty:
2 large artichokes (washed & trimmed)
1 1/2 c seasoned breadcrumbs
1 c shredded cheese of your choice. i’ve used everything! asiago, parmesan, cheddar, mozzerella… what ever suits your taste
1 tsp garlic salt
4 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (or to taste)
2 tbsp butter
2 c water
(foil if needed)
in a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic salt, & chopped garlic. mix with hands.
stuff the mixture into the leaves as described above
drizzle 1 tbs butter over un-stuffed center portion of each artichoke - finish with fresh ground pepper
place chokes in a wide pan with water and simmer covered for 2-4 hours until tender
so, now you know how to fix them. but, how do you eat them?