Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes: Carcocciuli alla Siciliana

Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed artichokes were the featured dish for summer family cookouts.  My mom would lightly stuff each artichoke with parsley, spring onions, and thin garlic slivers.  She would drizzle olive oil on top and wrap each one in a double thickness of foil.  The artichokes were then carefully nestled in charcoal or wood embers and cooked until tender, just the way they were prepared in Sicily.  They were sublime!

I don’t really cook with charcoal any longer, but those cookouts were fun memories.  Another method for cooking stuffed artichokes is to steam them in a large pot, as in the following recipe.

SICILIAN STUFFED ARTICHOKES
(Carcocciuli alla Siciliana/Carciofi Ripieni)

Difficulty Rating:  Easy
Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS:
4 large artichokes
3/4 cup dry plain bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced and then coarsely chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 lemon, cut in half
Olive oil for drizzling

1. PREPARE THE FILLING:  Mix together the breadcrumbs and olive oil in a small frying pan.  Stir continuously over medium-low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until lightly toasted.  Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.  Stir in the parsley, garlic, and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. PREPARE AND STUFF THE ARTICHOKES:  Remove the tough outer leaves from the bottom of the artichokes and cut off the end of the stem.  Using a sharp serrated knife, lay artichoke on its side and cut about a ½ inch off the top.  Using kitchen shears, trim ½ inch off of each of the outer leaves to remove any thorny ends.  Place artichokes upright in your hand, turn it upside down and lightly bang the top of the artichoke on a hard surface to loosen the top leaves.  Use your thumbs to gently pry the leaves further open.  Using a spoon, scrape out and remove the light papery inner leaves and fuzzy choke.  Immediately rub the cut ends of the artichoke with the cut lemon and squeeze some lemon juice in the center to prevent discoloring.

Starting at the bottom and working your way around to the center, place small amounts of stuffing between the leaves and in the center of each artichoke.  Drizzle the top of each with olive oil.

3. COOK THE ARTICHOKES:   Arrange the artichokes upright in a large covered stock pot, so that they fit snuggly against each other.  Carefully add about 1inch of salted water to the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook about 35 to 40 minutes, until leaves are tender.

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