Recipe of the Week: stuffed artichokes

This has got to be one of my favorite recipes to make. When I lived alone in college, I would probably eat at least an artichoke a week when they were in season! So you know up front, this is probably one of my more complicated and time consuming recipes, not to mention it is a smidgen unhealthy! But, you can also simply skip the stuffing and steam the chokes, dipping them in lemon butter, mayonnaise, or whatever suits your fancy.

Regardless, here's what you need for the stuffed chokes (all ingredients are per artichoke, increase as necessary):
Just a forewarning-  I'm terrible about measuring in the kitchen! So, these are all approximate since I never measure the filling ingredients. Once you know what your finished product should look like, adding the ingredients becomes very simple.

And here's what you need to do:

1. Set your steamer insert into a saucepan with about an inch of water at the bottom. The water should not touch the choke. Turn the burner on to medium low heat.

2. Use kitchen shears to trim the spiny tips off of the artichoke leaves, then use a serrated knife to cut off the stem and a bit off the top.

3. Once you rinse, put the choke top side up on the steamer, put the lid on and cook for about half hour. Once your time is up, pull the artichoke and let cool while you prepare the filling (I even put mine in the freezer so it cools faster).

4. For the stuffing, melt your butter. You can use a microwave, but since I don't own one I use a saucepan. Once the butter is melted turn off the heat and add a few tablespoons of each cheese so it melts. Then, add the breadcrumbs until the mixture becomes that of a very moist Thanksgiving-style stuffing- you don't want it too dry, but you need to be able to work. with it.

5. Then, pull your choke back out. I personally remove some of the center leaves, since they don't provide much to eat- more stuffing can fit in there!

6. Using a spoon, take a small amount of stuffing and, starting at the outside of the choke, start stuffing each leaf. It should look a bit like this:

7. This is the time consuming part. Keep doing this until all leaves are stuffed, then you can put any extra stuffing in the cavity where you removed the leaves earlier. Then, put the choke back in the steamer...

8. Put the lid back on and cook for another 15-30 minutes. I know that's a bit vague, but it really depends on the heat of the stove, size of the choke, etc. But test it after the first 15 minutes by carefully using tongs to try and remove a leaf. If the leaf comes willingly, it's ready to go. If not, cook a while longer until the leaves are easy to pull off and the stuffing is hot and bubbly!

9. Then enjoy! If you don't already know, you eat an artichoke by pulling off each leaf and scraping it through your teeth to get the "meat" off. Although with these you'll also get some cheesy, buttery goodness! Work your way around the artichoke until all you have left is the "heart." Don't throw this away- it is the best part! I use a grapefruit spoon to scrape away the spiny thistles, and then cut up the heart, eating it with the leftover stuffing- so yummy!

Like I said, these are a bit more complicated than most of my recipes, and don't suit everyone. But they are also very tasty with a blend of melted butter, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh cracked pepper- just pull of each leaf and dip!


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