Stuffed Artichokes Catania Style

(“ Carciofi Ripieni alla Catanese” - “Cacocciuli Chini 'a Catanisi”)

 

The artichokes harvested in the province of Catania are of the best quality.
The richness of the volcanic soil and the climate makes it possible to harvest tasty, tender and pulpy artichokes in late spring and at the beginning of summer.
Globe shaped artichokes, called domestichi  grow in the area along with the preferred  mammolewhich grow exclusively in the hinterland around Catania. 
In the province of Catania the artichokes are stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, little parsley, olive oil and very little salt: the result is a fragrant and sweet tasting stuffed artichoke.
In this province cheese is seldom combined with anchovies, in fact in the costal area, cheese is substituted with the abundant anchovies.Recipe at the end of page.

 

Serve 6

Ingredients

  • 6 artichokes trimmed for stuffing
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of grated pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
  • ½ cup of chopped pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
  • ½ cup of chopped parsley
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup of olive oil
  • very little 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 half 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.

 

Filling with Anchovies Used in the Province of Catania

 

Most of the costal towns, in the province of Catania, make the stuffing replacing the cheese, of the above recipe with capers and salted anchovies. Because the anchovies are salted, use salt sparingly.

Ingredients:

  • 6 artichokes trimmed for stuffing
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup capers minced finely
  • 4 mashed, salted anchovies, rinsed well and filleted
  • ½ cup of chopped parsley
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup of olive oil
  • salt (very little) 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.

 

Stuffing:

Step One
Combine all ingredients except the lemon and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix it well and combine with it half 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. If you are using anchovies, equally divide and insert between the leaves of each artichoke

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:

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.