Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes

4 large whole artichokes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup dry breadcrumbs (seasoned or unseasoned)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
18-20 capers, roughly shopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, roughly chopped
Fresh cracked pepper
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil

Trimming the artichokes step-by –step directions:
1. With a sharp knife, cut off the stalk of each artichoke.

2. Remove any old and loose leafs at the bottom of the artichokes

3. Slice off about 1- ½ inches from the top of the artichokes (the little spiny prickly tops)

4. Next, spread the artichoke open from the center out. Spoon or scoop out all of choke (fuzzy stuff) of the artichokes. Rinse well in cold water before stuffing.

Stuffing and cooking the artichokes:
1. Begin the filling by sautéing the oil and garlic in a skillet. Sauté for about a minute. Add the breadcrumbs, cheese, capers, parsley and pepper and sauté for 2-3 more minutes. Put this mixture in a bowl and cool slightly.

2. Place the artichoke in your hand and begin stuffing the artichoke with the breadcrumb mixture. Fill the center and between the leafs. Stuff one artichoke at a time until you have used up all of the breadcrumb mixture.

3. Once the artichokes have been stuffed, place them upright in a saucepan small enough to hold them all snugly, without tipping over in pan. Fill the saucepan with enough water to cover the sides of the artichokes, about half way. Add salt to the water. Drizzle extra olive oil in the center and around the leafs of each artichoke and a drizzle in the salted water as well. You will reap the benefits of these drizzles later.

4. Cook the artichoke on medium heat until they begin boiling. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover tightly. Simmer for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Test for tenderness by pulling out an outer leaf of the artichoke before removing them from the pan. After 30 minutes, test the filling of the artichokes, if it appears a little dry; simply add a tablespoon or two of the flavored artichoke water on top of the filling. Once the artichokes are tender, remove them from the water and place them in a serving plate. Serve warm or room temperature. Be sure to have an extra empty bowl to the discard the leafs.

How do you eat an artichoke?  You could skip the leafs and go right for the center where the filling is.  But that is not the way it’s done in Sicily.  Eating the leafs first brings forth enjoyable anticipation of knowing that the best is yet to come, the artichoke heart and that delicious stuffing.  It’s worth the wait!

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