Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cheesy Stuffed Artichokes

I'm always looking for new ways to cook old favorites. When I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try it. Combining tender artichokes with warm, cheesy stuffing is a decadent twist on my traditional stuffed artichokes. There is a little bit of prep work required, but the artichokes will come out perfectly tender and delicious. They are a hearty side and you could definitely cut them in half to make smaller portions, but they are so good you may just end up eating it all yourself!

Cheesy Stuffed Artichokes

Cold water, as needed
3 to 4 lemons, juiced, divided
6 medium artichokes, stems trimmed
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Fill bowl with cold water large enough to hold the 6 artichokes. Add the juice of 2 lemons to the water. Use a paring knife to trim the dark green skin from the stem and the base of each artichoke. Also, slice about 2 to 3 inches off the top. In a circular motion, using a paring knife peel the outer, dark green bitter layer of the heart until the fleshly, light green part is exposed. Trim and leave about 2 to 3 inches off the stem. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the "hay" from the center of each artichoke. Squeeze some of the remaining lemon juice over the artichoke, rubbing the lemon directly on them to prevent them from discoloring, then submerge them in the lemon water.
In a large bowl, combine 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, the bread crumbs, garlic, and parsley with the Fontina and Parmesan. Stir to blend. Season with salt, to taste. Remove the artichokes from the water, pat dry and transfer them to a bowl. Reseason with salt and drizzle them with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stuff each artichoke with the bread crumb mixture and arrange them in a baking dish. Don't be afraid to pack the stuffing into each artichoke. Top the artichokes with any remaining stuffing. Add a little water to the bottom of the baking dish to prevent the artichokes from drying out or scorching on the bottom as they cook. Cover the dish with a tight layer of aluminum foil and put the baking dish in the center of the oven.

After 45 minutes, remove the dish from the oven. Test the center of the artichoke with the tip of a knife. The knife should pierce and remove without resistance. Remove the foil and put the dish under a broiler for 5 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Cut each artichoke in half to reveal the stuffing, arrange on serving plates and serve.

Makes 6 generous portions

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