You know that restaurant you’d frequent with your friends when you were in high school? Ours was Vittorio, and a group of us would go after school, during school (don’t tell my parents!), on the weekends, and we’d pick up take-out if we wanted to hang out at home.
All of us would order the greasy, herbed garlic rolls — all of us except for Aimée, that is. Aimée would order the garlicky-lemony, stuffed artichoke every time. She truly adored this artichoke. So much so, that she often reminisces about it and is always yearning for one.
After many years (no, I’m not telling how many), Vittorio is still open! It doesn’t matter much to Aimée though, because the stuffed artichoke disappeared from the menu when we were in college. How dare they!
- 2 large, washed and dried artichokes (Lyons if possible -- about 1-pound each)
- Juice of 3 lemons, divided (about ½ cup)
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups fresh bread crumbs
- ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a steamer pot with a few inches of water, and place a steamer basket on top. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer.
- Use a Chef's knife to cut off about 1-inch from the top of each artichoke, and enough off of the bottom to form a nice base. Remove any especially tough outer leaves and discard them. Then use kitchen scissors to cut off the sharp tips of the leaves.
- Using your hands, carefully pull the leaves away from the middle of the artichoke -- just enough so that you can see down to the choke. Now use a spoon to reach down and gently scrape away and discard all of the fuzz, to reveal a clean heart. (See below image.) Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice over each one.
- Place the artichokes, stem-end up, in the steamer basket, cover, and steam until they are almost as tender as you like them, about 20 minutes. (They'll finish cooking in the oven.) Check for doneness by pulling off an outer leaf — it should come off fairly easily. Set them aside to cool.
- While the artichokes are steaming, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over low-medium heat. Let it simmer until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Pour in about ⅓ cup of lemon juice and the wine. Stir and let this simmer on low heat for about 4 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and parsley, stir to blend and remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper (here's how), and set aside to cool.
- Place the artichokes, sitting on their bases, in a baking dish.
- Use a spoon and/or your hands to carefully fill the center of each artichoke with the stuffing -- fill it to maximum capacity! Then fill all of the spaces between the leaves as much as possible. Sprinkle the top of each one with about half of the Parmesan.
- Place the stuffed artichokes in the preheated 375 degree F oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese has melted, 15 to 20 minutes.
- You can serve them whole as an entrée, or slice them in half for an appetizer.