Stuffed Artichokes Trapani Style

(“Carciofi Ripieni alla Trapanese" - "Cacocciuli Chini 'a Fucuneddu”)

 

In Trapani, a small rudimental portable furnace is called  fucuneddu.  In Palermo this portable cooking apparatus is called furnacella  and under other names was used in most parts of Sicily.
Today those furnaces are replaced by gas stoves or the portable barbecue fired by gas, charcoal or wood.
Fucuneddu  also means small fire and the artichokes a  fucuneddu  are so called because they were cooked at the end of the preparation of the family’s meal and without adding additional wood or charcoal to the hearth they would cook slowly, on the low fire for as long as the fire would last or until the stuffed artichokes were cooked.
The filling is stuffed into the artichokes without the addition of olive oil,
which in drizzled on top before cooking; in Trapani, most of the time cheese is not preferred and the taste of anchovies, parsley, garlic and onion blend to a tasteful and complete snack or un contorno, a side dish.

 

Serve 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 artichokes trimmed for stuffing
  • ½ cup of breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup of chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 1 small onion, minced finely
  • 4 salted anchovies, rinsed well, filleted and cut in three parts
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • ½ cup of grated pecorino cheese (optional)
  • 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
In a bowl combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, onion and the optional cheese and mix well. 

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. Sprinkle each artichoke with some salt and pepper to taste and stuff between the petals 2 pieces of anchovies in 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 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 drizzle the olive oil on top of the 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.