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Stuffed Artichokes ”Carciofi Inbottiti”

Stuffed Artichokes “Carciofi Inbottiti”
by Chef Lidia Bastianich

Serves 6

6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
3 lemons
6 large artichokes

Artichokes should be firm, with a healthy green coloró brownish streaks in the leaves indicate age. Hold an artichoke in your palm and make sure it is compact, not soft and loose. Two artichokes should squeak a little when rubbed together. Artichokesó for that matter any vegetable that have a stemóeggplant, peppers, tomatoes, carrotsóshould have the stems left on when shipped to market. The stem acts as a reserve food supply for the vegetable while it is on display to be sold at market. Look for and ask for vegetables with stems.

1 c coarse breadcrumbs
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped fine

4 Tbs chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh mint
2 anchovy fillets, chopped fine
2 Tbs grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp crushed hot red pepper, finely chopped
2 Tbs unsalted butter

Artichoke Preparation:

1. The flavorings in this dish are zestyó a combination of the traditional and a few touches of my own. The anchovies add a lot of flavor, but if you donít like them, donít use them. Lemon zest lightens the flavor of this hearty dish a little. (You might find that adding just a little bit of zest to other robust dishes will do the same for them.) It may seem strange to chop the crushed red pepperó especially at they fly around the chopping board a bit while youíre trying to do so, but it prevents you from biting down on a big flake of pepper in the stuffing. If you have vegetable stock or chicken stock, you may use it in place of the water called for above. It will surely add flavor.

2. Put the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl and let steep 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you plan to hold the infused garlic oil longer than a few hours, strain out the garlic and reserve the flavored oil.

3. Preheat oven to 400∞ F

4. Grate 1 teaspoon of zest from one of the lemons and set the zest aside. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and pour about half the juice into a large bowl of cool water. Reserve the remaining lemon juice and two of the lemon halves. Prepare the artichokes for stuffing (see instructions below) plunging them into the acidulated water as you go.

5. Mix the breadcrumbs, eggs (see instructions below), 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the mint, anchovies, Parmigiano-Reggiano, half the red pepper, the reserved lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil together in a bowl. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Mix well.

6. Remove the artichokes from the water and drain them a few minutes on a kitchen towel, rapping them once or twice to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Gently spread leaves open from the center to make sure as much stuffing as possible ends up between the leaves. Dividing the stuffing evenly among the artichokes and using the palm of one hand, work the stuffing between the artichoke leaves and into the center, where the choke was. You may not need all the stuffing to fill the artichokes. If you have any left over, you may use it as described below to make a thicker sauce. (Or, if you prefer a thicker sauce, be sure to reserve about 3 tablespoons of the stuffing for that purpose.)

7. Nestle the artichokes into an oval 12-inch ceramic baking dish, or other dish into which they fit comfortably. Tuck the reserved stems in between the artichokes. Pour enough fresh water into the dish to cover the bottom third of the artichokes. Season water with salt, and add the remaining crushed red pepper, the remaining 3 tablespoons infused olive oil, the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and the remaining lemon juice to the water. Dot the tops of the artichokes with the butter. For a denser sauce, spoon any remaining or reserved stuffing into the liquid in the dish. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, poke the foil a few times with a fork and bake until the leaves are tender when pierced with a paring knife, 30 to 45 minutes.

8. Uncover the artichokes bake until the top of the stuffing is browned and crusty and an outer leaf is easy to pluck from the artichoke, about 10 minutes. Serve the artichokes hot in shallow soup plates, spooning some of the cooking liquid around each.

Hard Boiled Eggs:
1. These eggs arenít really boiled, but slow-cooked in hot water, giving you a tender white and an evenly cooked creamy yolk without a trace of green. Put as many eggs as youíd like to cook in a roomy saucepan. Pour in enough cold water to cover the eggs by at least 3 fingers. Bring the eggs to a boil over high heat, then immediately remove the pan from the heat. Let the eggs stand in the water until cooled to room temperature.

2. To peel the eggs: Remove the eggs from the water, roll them on a hard surface to crack the shells. Return the eggs to the water for a few minutes before peeling.

Prepare the Artichokes:
1. Start by washing the Artichoke under cold, running water and dry thoroughly. Plunging the artichokes into the acidulated water (water with lemon juice) as you go to keep them from turning brown.

2. Trim the end of the stem off at the base. Keep the stem and slice away the outer peal until you get to the heart of the stem. The stem is an extension of the artichoke heart and is edible.

3. Trim the top of the Artichoke by cutting off ª to Ω of the leaves which are tightly bunched and discard.

4. Use a pair of scissors to trim rest of the sharp points off the top of each uncut leaf around the outside of the artichoke.

5. Pull out central purple and thorny center leaves. With a spoon, scrape out any remaining purple and fuzz.

6. Now the artichoke is ready to be stuffed.