When we began work on this book project it was before my grandmother had passed away at the age of eighty-seven, and we were very excited about preserving so many of her recipes. One day my mother went to visit my grandmother in the hospital. She told her that we didn’t have her recipe for stuffed artichokes and we wanted to include it in the book. Without hesitation my grandmother began to tell her how she prepared them. The nurse who was attending her said, “Only an Italian could come out of surgery and start discussing food.” But the telling of a recipe is very different from the actual process of making a dish with its creator. So this recipe, which is named for my grandmother, is based on memories of her stuffed artichokes.
4 medium-size or 2 extra-large artichokes, stems and top ¼ inch sliced off and discarded, sharp outer leaf points snipped off and discarded
2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian, flat leafed parsley
5 teaspoons finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup coarsely grated day-old bread or 1 cup plain dried bread crumbs, or a combination of both
4 tablespoons olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Snugly fit the artichokes in a small saucepan and add water to a depth ¼ inch below the tops of the artichokes. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until an outside leaf pulls away easily, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook or the artichokes will fall apart. Remove from the water, turn upside down to drain, and set aside to cool.
3. In a small bowl, mix the parsley, Romano cheese, garlic, and bread. Sprinkle teaspoons of the filling between the leaves, working from the outer leaves toward the center of the artichoke, spreading the inner leaves slightly if necessary. Place the artichokes in a glass baking pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over each artichoke (2 tablespoons if using extra-large ones). Fill the pan with water to a depth of 1 inch. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, add more water to the pan if necessary, and continue baking until the artichokes are tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes more. Serve hot or at room temperature.
WINE PAIRING: Light white and medium white
VARIATIONS: When serving steamed or boiled artichokes that have not been stuffed, I like to whisk 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and ¼ cup melted butter to dip the tender leaves into before eating. One steamed artichoke may be served as part of an antipasto with drinks before dinner. Separate the leaves and arrange them on a platter. Serve along with a small dish of Basic Vinaigrette.
From The Tucci Cookbook, by Stanley Tucci.