Monday, May 23, 2011

Carciofi Ripieni: Stuffed Artichokes



My dream when I grew up was not to be a doctor or lawyer (or antique dealer/food blogger), but to be an Italian.

I always thought I could pull it off.

If I learned the language, married an Italian, wore an Italian horn around my neck in high school to ward off the evil eye (aka "maloik" or "malocchio"), then maybe it would happen.


I cooked the sauce, made Pasta con Sarde on St. Joseph's day, watched my friend's moms stuff zucchini flowers and enjoyed the Feast of the 7 Fishes on Christmas Eve.
But it didn't happen.

I still have hope that I will find out some day that my great grandmother's sister was a Roman or Venetian Jew. Hey, you never know.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I think preparing artichokes correctly and artfully is in the genes. Italian genes.

The Cucina Ebraica (Hebrew cooking) of Italy showcases artichokes in almost every meal.
The Carciofi Guidia (Artichokes Jewish style) is the specialty of the Jewish ghetto in Rome. My friend just got back from Rome and told me how amazing the artichokes tasted in season in that part of Rome. They enjoyed them every which way. Fried, baked, thinly sliced, with and without breadcrumbs. My mouth was watering listening to her tell me about them.

So I decided to find my pretend roots and prepare some carciofini.

Marie recently sent me a great recipe from Mario Batali to try, sans breadcrumbs.
The preparing of the artichokes takes a little time, but it's worth it in the end.



You have to slice the garlic cloves razor thin (or "Goodfellas thin") and make a bath for the artichokes. Boil them first in lemon juice and water, then bathe them in the garlic cheese oil, then bake them for 40 minutes.

We ate these beauties for dinner with bread. No meat was needed.



Carciofi Ripieni: Stuffed Artichokes (from Marie and Mario)

4 jumbo artichokes or 9 baby artichokes
2 lemons, juiced
10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 bunches chopped Italian parsley leaves, to yield about 1/2 cup
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, combine 4 quarts of water the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add the artichokes and blanch for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain, cool, and set aside.

Remove the outer layer of leaves from the artichokes and cut the artichokes in quarters. Use a small knife to remove the spiny choke.



Preheat the oven to 375F.

Mix the sliced garlic, Parmigiano, parsley, and extra-virgin olive oil loosely.

Season the cavity of each artichoke with plenty of salt and pepper and stuff in and around the leaves with cheese/garlic mixture.



Put the artichokes in a shallow baking dish, place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let rest 10 minutes. Serve immediately, or serve at room temperature.

Like Anthony Bourdain says "doesn't everyone want to be Italian?".



There is hope for me yet.

16 comments:

Jonny said...

Stacey, you could have been writing the story of my life - apart from the maloiks, that is! We got engaged in Rome in May and ate the fabulous fried artichokes in the Roman ghetto several times during that heady week. To me, it's amazing that something as unlikely as an overgrown thistle can be so delicious!

Regina said...

Hi Stacey,
My mother was born in Veneto, in Italy and is Jewish. She met my dad in WW2 and came to the States to marry him.
She makes artichokes like nobody! She breads them and fries them and it's like I've died and gone to heaven.

There is a large Jewish population in Italy and many people don't know that the oldest synagogue is in Roma.
So, maybe you do have some Italian in your backround, you never know, those carciofini look pretty good!

Best,
Regina

Ciao Chow Linda said...

If I could, I'd pronounce you honorary Italian. Oh why not! I have another friend who is an Italian wanna be and went so far as to change his name. We could always add an "i" to your last name. there really is nothing more delicious or addictive than eating carciofi alla guidea in Rome. Fried whole, they're as crispy as potato chips. but I'd also eat a ton of your (and Marie's and Mario's) version too.

Tracy said...

This is really funny- I have the opposite situation. I'm Italian, but since I grew up in a mostly Jewish town, I wanted to be Jewish. Anyway you probably cook better than most of the Italians I know!

The Japanese Redneck said...

Wow, fantastic looking. I luv artichokes, but have been very limited in the way I've cooked them.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little bit of everything (Irish/English/Jewish/German), but grew up in a VERY heavily Italian North Jersey town. Having a last name that ends in a vowel & dark hair, everyone assumed I was, too. Thumbs up to the food, but the mafioso gavones didn't turn me on. Lots of dads who moved their families on up from Garfield, or Paterson, in 'construction', or 'concrete', who'd then disappear for large unexplained chunks of time, aka jail time. Leaving their wives down in the basement summer kitchens, grinding the sausage meat, stuffing the artichokes...Hey, my best friend was the smartest boy in town from a straight arrow family and totally Italian, so not EVERYBODY. But ALOT. How did 'this thing of ours' play into your dolce vita fantasies, SS?

Karen said...

Stacey, thank you for this great post ona Monday a.m.

Growing up in North Jersey with an Italian mother & a Jewish father, we had the best of both worlds.
Great food, great arguments and great families. I can remember my mother tying red thread into our underwear so no one gave us the "maloik"! as she used to say.

We relocated to Wisconsin for my dad's job and I finished college there. I love your blog and really miss my NJ roots when I read your stories. And those artichokes look amazing!

Melissa @IWasBornToCook said...

There is nothing better than being Italian :) You and your artichokes come very close!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Stacey, You know I'm artichoke obsessed, in fact guess what I just finished eating for lunch before I got on the computer? Yes, artichokes! Leftover from Saturday, this time I grilled baby artichokes ( after they were par boiled) and basicly made them the same way you did, stuffed them with garlic and cheese and tossed in olive oil, and parsley the cheese gets crispy on the grill, so good. I thought of you, my honorary Italian as I was eating them! i was happy as a lark looking at your top photo!

Tiffany said...

Great post, and great recipe! I'm only a quarter Italian, but I will give it my best shot, I'm always looking for recipes that will impress my Italian Mother-in-law!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I honestly thought you were Italian. Seriously! Between you and Linda, I've got some great new ways to prepare artichokes. I'm living in the land of artichokes, and I love them. I love this recipe, and I'm truly excited to make these. By the way, how well do I remember the Italian horns... discos... men with hairy chests and open shirts. Wow, how 80's was that?!! I'm copying this one!

Joanne said...

Hmm. well maybe I'm not REALLY Italian then...because last week I tried to make a pasta with baby artichokes and it was TERRIBLE. It was my first time preparing baby artichokes ever...and I still want to gag thinking about them. Maybe it was the recipe. I think I need to try yours. For experimental purposes.

tasteofbeirut said...

I never dreamed of being Italian maybe because I had a grandmother whose roots were from Trieste. In any case, I had the bet artichokes of my life in Italy, served by friends who had a place on Lake Como; we ate the entire baby artichoke, and it was a delight I still remember! I would love to make your recipe today, once I find some decent artichokes. (However, I know they will never taste like the ones in Italy! )

Kirsten Lindquist said...

with you on the pretending to be Italian (always trying to pass!) And am also artichoke obsessed, so these are on the short list to do!

Cate O'Malley said...

Love stuffed artichokes, but have yet to make them. Looks positively decadent!

Claudia said...

Growing up Italian - I was an anglophile. My stage name was taken from Scottish side and not the Italians. I woke up in my late 20's and embraced what I was given. I give it to you. And the artichokes - yes, somewhere you have an errant Italian gene.