Most Italian families have a recipe for this, and each family will tell you that theirs is the best. My Mom often served her best Carciofi during the holidays, and I can remember, as a child, one particular Christmas when she taught me the proper way of eating artichokes cooked in this fashion. Peel off one leaf at a time, hold the top edge of the leaf and put the filled edge in your mouth. With your teeth together against the leaf, pull it away from you. That’s it! I really didn’t like them as a child but Mom made them fun to eat and now they’ve become something I indulge in as often as possible.
6 fresh, medium sized artichokes
1-¼ cups dried breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Romano cheese
4 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
¼ cup diced prosciutto
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Remove and discard discolored, tough outer leaves. Cut off the stems back to about 1-inch from where they join the base, so artichokes can stand without tipping. Cut across the top to remove the prickly tips and remove the choke with a spoon.
- In a large bowl of cold water, add the lemon juice and place each artichoke in the bowl. This is called acidulated water. It will keep the artichokes from discoloring and will also remove any debris from inside the artichoke.
- Bring a pot of water, large enough to fit the artichokes, to a boil. Add artichokes and cook for about 12 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, Romano cheese, parsley, garlic, prosciutto, salt and pepper. Gently pry open the artichokes to make a small cavity in the center of each one. Divide the mixture evenly among the artichokes, filling spaces between the leaves.
- Place artichokes in a roasting pan large enough to hold them upright. Drizzle the tops with the olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees till the tops are browned.