Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stuffed Artichokes - A Labor of Love!

Yesterday while I was at the grocery store I stumbled upon a basket of artichokes and let me tell you, they were calling my name! Although artichokes aren't at their peak until about mid-spring, these babies weren't looking too shabby so I went for it.  I knew that I was going to stuff the artichokes, however I didn't actually buy any other ingredients with a specific recipe in mind so like usual I just winged it.

Here's what you need:
4 medium artichokes
8 slices of cooked bacon crumbled
1 lemon
1/2 of a small onion
2 garlic cloves
6 pieces of bread (I used whole wheat)
A hand full of shredded Parmesan cheese 
2-3 table spoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
Salt and Pepper
4 cherry tomatoes

Pre-heat the oven to 425! 

Artichoke Bath!

First you'll need to clean the artichokes and get them directly into  a pot of cold lemon water.  Cleaning artichokes can be tricky, especially if its your first time.  Don't panic, I'll walk you through it!  First working with one at a time use a serrated knife to cut off the stem so the artichoke will stand up straight.  Next cut about 1 1/2 inches off of the top of the artichoke.  Using kitchen sheers snip any of the leaves that are left with the pointy edge.  Now, using a melon baller or a small spoon (I actually used a grapefruit spoon with a serrated edge!) you want to clean out all of the purple leaves from the center of the artichoke and scrape the hairy choke from the inside.  Plop these babies into the lemon bath as soon as your done so they don't turn brown on you. 

Phew, now that we're done with that let's move onto the fun stuff!

Pour the 1 cup of water and wine into the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.

Time to load up the food processor! 

Fill your food processor with the bread (torn into pieces), bacon, shredded cheese, minced garlic, chopped onion, salt and pepper and begin to pulse.  Pour the olive oil in through the top and watch as the bread crumbs come together. 

Now this part is optional but I had some cherry tomatoes laying around and thought it would be a nice surprise in the center of the artichoke.  The tomato roasts slowly as the artichokes cook and it begins to release its juices which adds an extra pop of flavor once you get to the heart. 

Stuff em' up!
Carefully loosen up the leaves of the artichokes and generously stuff the bread crumb mixture inside.  Top with a small amount of shredded cheese and place in the pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 60-75 minutes. 

Eating them can be as tedious as making them... but it's all worth it!

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