Artichokes are at their seasonal peak right now. The tender earthy flavor at the center of their spiny heart is well worth the effort to enjoy.
I know these spiky armadillo-like vegetables can look a little intimidating to pick up at the grocer, but did you know that an artichoke is just an unopened flower bud? In the 16th century there were actually laws banning women from eating artichokes because they were considered an aphrodisiac and thought to increase your sexual power… Well ladies ~you’re welcome for this recipe.
Stuffed Artichokes (serves 2)
1 Large Artichoke
Half one medium onion chopped
1/3 cup Mushrooms chopped
2-3 oz Pancetta diced thick
2 small cloves Garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups White Wine (I prefer Chardonnay)
1 cup water
Begin by rendering your pancetta in a saute pan until just crispy on the edges. Remove the pancetta and set aside in a bowl for later. (I had to search high and low to find pancetta like this that you can actually dice thick. You can usually find this at your grocery store deli in the packaged section, but it is always sliced paper thin. I finally found this thick cut of pancetta at Jimmy’s Food Store. The nice folks there will cut it to order.)
Meanwhile dice up your onion, mushrooms and garlic. Then saute in the same pan the pancetta came out of on a medium low heat. While that is cooking you can prep your artichokes.
With a very sharp knife split them down the middle revealing the hairy flower in the middle. This flower is not at all appetizing! With a paring knife and spoon scoop out the hairy center and discard. You will also want to trim off the needle-like tip of each leaf on the outside. This is just for ease of eating. You don’t want any spikes to stab you while your trying to enjoy dinner.
Once the onions mushrooms and garlic have cooked down and the flavors have merry-ed together, take the skillet off the heat and stir in the cooked pancetta and parmesan. Spoon this stuffing in to the center of your hollowed out artichokes. Really pack it in there, you can even stuff a little in between the leaves of each half. Place the two halves (stuffing side up) in a simmering bath of Chardonnay. Close the lid and let simmer for about 15- 20 minutes until the artichokes become tender. You can test done-ness by poking the center of the heart with a fork.
Once steamed it’s time to serve and enjoy. The bottom meaty part of the outside leaves is edible, but not the tough green tips. Just pluck them off from the outside and work your way in to the tender center. Scoop a bit of the stuffing on your leaf for each bite. The closer you get to the center, the more tender each leaf becomes.