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Stuffed Artichokes

3 fresh artichokes
¼ cup lemon juice or the juice from squeezing ½ lemon
2 ½ cups Italian-style bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup olive oil

Snip off the tips of every artichoke leaf using a kitchen shear. This will remove all the thorns. Next, place the stem of the artichoke between your index and middle finger, while cradling the artichoke base in the palm of your hand. Turn the artichoke upside down and literally bang the artichoke on the counter top several times. This will open up the leaves of the artichoke. Remove 2 rows of leaves from the bottom of the artichoke, as these tend to be tough. Leaving one inch of stem, cut off the rest and discard.

Fill a 6-quart saucepan half-full of cold water; add the ¼ cup lemon juice. Wash the artichoke by plunging it upside down in the saucepan of cold water. Agitate by shaking it under the water; remove and drain. Discard the water.

Combine remaining ingredients, except the olive oil, in a large shallow bowl. Add just enough of the olive oil to hold the bread crumb mixture together when pressed against the side of the bowl. Be careful not to make it too wet.

Place the artichoke racks in a large stockpot of water. The water level should be just below the top rim of the racks. Bring the water to a simmer. Meanwhile, cradle an artichoke in the palm of your hand, directly over the bread crumb mixture. Using a teaspoon, “spoon-feed” each leaf with stuffing mixture, beginning with the bottom row. Continue this process by rotating the artichoke clockwise until you reach the final row at the top. Every leaf must have filling. It is important that you work your way from the bottom up, allowing excess filling to fall back into the bowl.

Gently “hug” the artichoke to help hold in the filling. Place the artichokes in the racks. Cover pan and simmer for 50-60 minutes or until tender. When cooked, carefully remove artichoke racks from the water. To serve, remove artichokes from racks. Eat by peeling off one leaf at a time. Drag the stuffing and the softened part of the leaf between your teeth. Do not eat the leaf itself; discard it on the side of your plate. Enjoy!

Yield: 3 stuffed artichokes


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