I eat my artichokes cool with homemade vinaigrette for dipping or warm with melted butter finished with dash of red vinegar.
With her recent cookbook Olives, Lemons & Za'atar (Kyle Books, February 2014), Rawia Bishara of Tanoreen restaurant opens a new artichoke path, for me at least, and offers to all of us a step by step 'how to clean fresh artichokes'.
Lamb & Beef Stuffed Artichokes with Pine Nuts
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
Nobody in Nazareth prepared artichokes this way; my mother brought the idea back from a long weekend away in a nearby town. When I arrived in the States, I found that my Syrian friends had long been making stuffed artichokes with spiced meat and pine nuts—and I realized just how much my mother’s cooking was influenced by neighboring nations. In Galilee, artichoke season was roughly March through May. Of course, these days every vegetable is available almost all year long, but there is something poetic about eating certain foods for a short time each year. My father would buy a box of fresh artichokes for my mother, who would spend the afternoon peeling and cleaning the large, spiky vegetables in order to stuff them. I loved to help her. Using frozen artichokes is much faster—and a perfectly acceptable way to make this dish. The heart will have a slightly different texture but it is still delicious! Serve with Rice and Vermicelli Pilaf, page 182.
8 (8-ounce) fresh artichokes or 16 to 24 frozen, depending on the size (size 8 is the largest, 24 is the smallest)
1 cup corn oil
41/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cardamom (optional)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb from the leg or ground beef
1/2 to 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 to 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 large lemons, halved
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 cups Seasoned Chicken Stock (page 90) or low-sodium chicken stock
Rice and Vermicelli Pilaf (page 182)
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Clean the fresh artichokes, if using (see opposite page). Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Heat the corn oil in a large skillet over high until hot. Slide the artichokes into the pan and saute on the stem side for 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the artichokes over and fry on the open side for 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined tray, open end down, to drain. Arrange the artichokes, stem end down, in a large baking dish and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the allspice, pepper, nutmeg and cardamom, if using. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and half of the spice mixture, stirring to combine, and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat loses its pink color. Toss in the pine nuts and almonds, the juice of 1 lemon and the salt. Stir to thoroughly combine and turn o% the heat.
Divide the meat mixture among the artichokes, filling them to almost overflowing and tucking in between the leaves. Reserve any remaining meat mixture.
Add the juice of the remaining lemon and the stock to the reserved spice mixture. Drizzle the seasoned broth over the artichokes and pour the rest into the baking pan.
Distribute the reserved meat mixture in the broth in the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1 hour if using fresh artichokes, 20 minutes if using frozen.
Remove the foil from the pan, reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the broth has thickened. Arrange the artichokes on individual plates with the rice and vermicelli pilaf. Garnish with the parsley and serve.
HOW TO CLEAN FRESH ARTICHOKES
1. Working with one artichoke at a time, hold it by the stem. Using kitchen shears, snip off the top quarter inch or so of each leaf on the artichoke (this will rid it of the barbs).
2. Lay the artichoke on its side and, using a sharp knife, slice off the top inch or so of the artichoke to reveal the choke.
3. Slice off the stem at the base of the artichoke, taking care to keep it level so that it will sit up straight in the pan.
4. Using a melon baller, dig out the center, including the feathery fronds, so that the center is clean, empty and ready to be stuffed; squeeze lemon juice all over the artichoke, inside and out, to
prevent it from browning. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.
(* Recipe reproduced from 'Olives, Lemons & Za'atar' by Rawia Bishara -Kyle Books, February 2014- Photography by Peter Cassidy, all rights reserved...)