Prosciutto-Stuffed Artichokes

Printemps 2010
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food and drink

BY: Jennifer McLagan

This recipe can be served as either an appetizer or vegetable accompaniment and is best warm or at room temperature. They are ideal for entertaining as they can be made ahead. Buy a thick slice of prosciutto and dice it like bacon.

¼ cup (50 mL) cup currants
½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
2 oz (60 g) prosciutto, diced
1 onion, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh thyme leaves
1 cup (250 mL) fresh, fine bread crumbs
12 pitted quality black olives, chopped
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped parsley
Coarse sea salt
12 small or 4 large artichokes, prepared (see Preparation below) and stems removed
¼ cup (50 mL) water
1 bay leaf

1 Place the currants in a bowl and pour over the wine. Let steep for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat and add the prosciutto and onion. Season with black pepper. Cook, stirring until the onion softens and the prosciutto colours lightly. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook until you can smell the garlic, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the bread crumbs, olives and parsley. Season with salt if necessary. Strain the currants, keeping the soaking liquid, and add to the stuffing. Set the wine and stuffing aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

4. Drain the artichokes, pat dry, then open up the artichokes like flowers. Twist out the small leaves in the centre and scrape out any hairy choke. Trim the bases so the artichokes will sit upright. Fill the centre of each artichoke flower with the stuffing mixture. Place them in a Dutch oven or casserole just large enough to hold the artichokes. Pour over the wine and water and add the bay leaf. Cover and cook until tender. The small artichokes will take about 30 minutes, the large ones an hour or longer.

5. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving

Serves 4

Preparation

There is a saying that with artichokes you discard more than you eat, and it is true that you must be ruthless in their preparation, unless eating them simply boiled. Begin by bending back the leaves and snapping them off. At first the whole leaf will snap off , and then as you continue working around the artichoke the leaves grow more tender, so less and less of each leaf will break off until you reach the inner, pale green leaves which will no longer snap but just tear. Next, cut off the top third of the artichoke and discard, and trim the stem. Using a small knife, peel the stem and the base of the artichoke, removing all traces of dark green. Now open up the centre of the artichoke. Purple-tipped leaves indicate the artichoke has a hairy inedible choke. Pull out these purple leaves and with a small spoon or melon baller, scrape away the choke. Rub the artichoke with a cut lemon and drop into
a bowl of acidulated water (2 tbsp/25 mL lemon juice to 4 cups/1 L water) to minimize the discolouration, until ready to use.

Tips

• Always choose plump artichokes with tightly closed leaves that are heavy for their size. If they have a stem it should be firm.

• Squeeze the artichoke in your hand. A fresh one will squeak and feel springy.

• Cook your artichokes as soon as possible after buying them. If necessary you can store them for a couple of days, wrapped in wet paper towel, in the refrigerator.

• There are two types of globe artichokes available; large mature artichokes that can weigh up to 1 lb (500 g) or more, and smaller immature buds. These lateral buds grow lower down the stalk and are removed so the primary bud can develop. Whether small or large, artichokes are cleaned in the same way, however the smaller ones often have little or no choke and can be
eaten whole.

• Artichokes contain cynarin, a chemical that causes anything you eat after them to taste sweet and makes matching wine to artichoke dishes tricky.

 

What to Serve

LCBO#:24133
$18.95  
LCBO#:255380
$2.75