This recipe is a little labor intensive, but is so worth the effort. Stuffed Artichokes are delicious and make a meal in themselves. I used large artichokes here but you can use the smaller ones and serve them as a side. It's kind of a shame though, they're so good I just like to concentrate on them all by themselves! If you want a totally vegetarian dish, just omit the bacon as the dressing stands on it's own.
4 Large Artichokes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices of lean bacon
1 small onion3 cloves of garlic
a few springs of parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary or 2 teaspoons fresh
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 cup of Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of grated Reggiano Parmesan
6 oz of tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes
16 oz of chopped tomatoes
16 oz of tomato Juice
3 more cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
(click on photo's for enlarged view)
Start out by cutting about an inch off the end of the Artichoke. Be carefull, they are prickly little buggers and it's pretty tough cutting through. When the end is off, take a pair of scissors and cut the prickly ends off of each individual leaf.
Cut off the stalk so the artichokes sit flat. When you're finished trimming, your artichokes become a lot smaller and will look like the above. Fill a sink or large receptacle with cold water and let them soak for a few minutes leaves side down. Swish the artichokes around to get any sand or any other things out. Shake them out and drain them upside down on a paper towel.
Making the Dressing
Dice the bacon into about 1/4 inch pieces and finely dice the onion and garlic. Finely chop the parsley.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until golden. Lower the heat and add the onions and garlic and saute until soft and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the Parsley, Rosemary and Oregano and mix in well.
Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs, parmesan. Mix well.
Add the pureed tomatoes/sauce and the eggs. Mix well until you have a nice spoonable mixture. If it's too dry, add a few teaspoons of water. Test the mix and add salt if necessary. Sometimes the cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs will be enough, but it's all personal taste. Add some pepper though. When the dressing is finished, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Some people don't do this when they're making Artichokes but when I'm stuffing them I like to remove the Fuzzy Choke! Yes, you lose some of the tender leaves inside, but we replace it with delicious stuffing!
Take the Artichoke and spread the center apart with your hands.
Take a spoon and dig the choke out. Scrape it until you've gotten all of the fuzzy hairy stuff and center leaves out. If it's going to be a while until you stuff them, place a few drops of lemon juice on the inside as it will prevent it from turning dark.
Start stuffing the artichoke in the center then gradually stuff the outer leaves with a teaspoon. You can't get them all, especially the ones close to the top as they're way too packed.
When your artichokes are all stuffed sit them nicely in a pan (I'm using foil pans tonight for easy clean-up and they fit perfectly!). Spoon the chopped tomatoes over and pour in the tomato juice. Add the additional whole cloves of garlic to the tomato juice for some extra flavor. Give everybody a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake for 2 hours in your 350 degree oven. After two hours check the artichokes for doneness by pulling a leaf off. It should be tender and pull apart easily.
Serving and Eating these Incredible and Amazing Artichokes
First of all...this is no fork and knife food! Yes you can use a fork for the center dressing but other than that - it's a finger meal! Place the Artichoke on a plate and drizzle it with an nice big spoonful of the tomato sauce from the pan.
Start at the bottom and pull the leaves off one by one. On most of the leave's, you'll get this nice little touch of dressing and you just bring it to your lips, eat it off and scrape the flesh of the artichoke leaf with your teeth! Mmmmmmmm!
The closer you get to the middle, the more tender it is! And when you get there...it's the best! All those tender leaves surrounding a nicely cooked little spicy heart of dressing and a tender tasty Artichoke bottom! There's not too much more you could ask for as far as taste goes!