Stuffed Artichokes Agrigento Style

(“Carciofi Ripieni all’Agrigentina" - "Cacocciuli Chini ‘a Girgintana”)

 

 

The Greek influence in the province of Agrigento can be felt not only by walking in the Valley of the Temples, one of the most important archeological sites in Sicily but also with the local food. 
The cooking is simple and the taste and presentation of the local dishes is as elegant as one of the temples and as frugal and typical of their Greek traits. The majority of their cooking, fish or meat is “barbecued”, except for a few delicious soups, mostly made with one or two ingredients in which the taste of each ingredient is clearly distinguishable. Baking is very popular and every housewife prepares a large variety of breads, stuffed breads, and sweets. The artichokes are eaten barbecued and the stuffed artichokes are a holiday treat.

 

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 artichokes trimmed for stuffing
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of grated pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
  • ½ cup of chopped parsley
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ lemon
  

 

                                     

 

PREPARATION OF ARTICHOKES

When preparing artichokes for cooking, wear utility gloves so you can avoid staining your hands. Prepare a basin with water, acidulated with the juice of a lemon, to soak the artichokes after they are trimmed, to prevent discoloration. 
Wash the artichokes to remove sand, small stone or any foreign object. 
Remove stem and discard hard outer leaves, the first 2 or 3 rows, until the artichoke leaves became light in color and usually tender. Trim base cutting enough so the artichoke can stand up in the cooking pot. Cut off one-third of the petals eliminating the pointy top.

 

Preparation of the Stuffing

Step One
Combine all ingredients except the lemon and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix it well and combine with it 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Step Two
Bang the trimmed artichokes on the counter or cutting board to loosen the leaves, press them upside down and spread the petals apart so they can be stuffed.

Step Three
Hold each artichoke over the top of the bowl containing the stuffing, sprinkle between the petals, pressing inside the artichoke. Distribute equally any remaining filling to form a cover on top to crown each artichoke.

 

Cooking the Artichokes

Place the stuffed artichokes in a pot, close together; fill any empty space with a cup filled with water and/or use aluminum foil as filler. Cover artichokes half way with cold water and to prevent discoloration, add the lemon after squeezing a few drops of juice to the pot; also add a teaspoon of salt and pour the remaining olive oil on top of each artichoke.
Bring pot to a boil and simmer for 30/45 minutes. Check often and if needed add some water. Check if salt is needed and add.
Artichokes are done when pulling a leaf, it comes off easily. 
Spoon the top of each artichoke with some of the cooking liquid remaining in the pot. Serve hot or at room temperature.
If you want to give an extra zest, sauté a few cloves of sliced garlic and some parsley in three tablespoon of olive oil, drizzle over the artichokes before serving.