Nostalgia is an incredible thing. Sights, smells, tastes and sounds all contribute to pull memories up from the deepest part of you and deliver them to you present day. My sister and I were watching my nephew play with his new bird recently and casually my sister said “remember Nonna’s little bird?” … until that moment I had completely forgotten that my grandmother used to have a bird that she would chat to in Italian and that would fly around the house following her.
It made me wonder how many things I have forgotten, and makes me look forward to the resurgence of memories too trivial for my brain to keep top of mind. Food memories seem to be very much top of mind, and always have been. Certain dishes my mother made as we were growing up provide feelings of comfort, warmth and love.
This is one of those dishes. I’m certain that if I had ever tried artichokes in any other way, I would never have liked them at all, but something about stuffing them with bread crumbs, egg, cheese, garlic and parsley, makes them incredible. But, along with the nostalgia of the dish itself is the nostalgia of my mother always making it in her Bessemer casserole dish.
All of my aunties who migrated to Australia had Bessemer in their arsenal. An Australian owned company, Bessemer was sold through home parties at the time and I can just imagine my mother and her sisters hosting parties to update their set of fire engine red pots. Lucky for me, Bessemer comes in black as well as red these days, and so I now have a bessemer casserole of my own to make my mother’s stuffed artichokes.
It’s not often I do a recipe reboot on Chew Town, in fact, I think I’ve only ever done it once and it was my family’s pizza recipe. But, here I am doing it again because 5 years on from the last time I posted this recipe, my photography has somewhat improved, and this dish deserves to look beautiful.
These stuffed artichokes (carciofi ripieni) are best made at the start of the artichoke season when leaves and stems are tender so that you can eat the leaves more easily. The sheer joy of peeling back each layer of leaves, pulling them between your teeth and finding the mother load of stuffing as you go is the epitome of gleeful nostalgia for me.
Carciofi Ripieni | Stuffed Artichokes
- 4 artichokes
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 cups breadcrumbs
- 2 cups grated romano cheese
- 1 small handful continental parsley, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, 2 crushed and 1 whole
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
To prepare the artichokes, first remove the stalk from the base of the artichokes so that they sit flat and then remove a few rows of the outer leaves. Cut the tops off the artichokes so that the tips of all the leaves have been cut out and so you can see the layers of leaves when looking top down. Gently and carefully wiggle the tops of the leaves open so that you can make room for the stuffing to be pushed between them.
Place the prepared artichokes in a large bowl of water with the juice of half a lemon and pop a plate on top to keep the artichokes submerged. This will keep the artichokes moist and prevent them from discolouring while you prepare the stuffing, the acid will also start softening the leaves.
Place your artichokes in a large Bessemer casserole dish with one inch of water covering the bottom, a tablespoon of olive oil and the final garlic clove cut in half. If you have any remaining stuffing roll it into small balls and add them to the casserole.
Put the casserole on the stove on a high heat and bring the water to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes until the water has evaporated from the pot then serve.
Chew Town would like to acknowledge its partnership with Bessemer for this post. You can read Chew Town’s disclosure statement here for more information on brands that Chew Town chooses to work with and why.