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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 03:22 pm

Artichokes stuffed with shrimp and/or crabmeat

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Seafood-stuffed artichokes are a New Orleans classic that can be found in restaurants ranging from humble to elegant. It’s a beautiful dish, the stuffed artichoke leaves splaying out like some exotic flower. But these artichokes aren’t just for looks. They’re absolutely delicious and, hands down, my favorite artichoke preparation. 

  • 4 large artichokes
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 c. plus 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 6 c. fresh breadcrumbs from homemade type white bread, or French or Italian bread
  • 1 c. finely diced onions
  • 1 1/2 T. minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp or crabmeat, or a combination
  • 2 c. freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano or aged Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped parsley, preferably flat-leafed, plus additional for garnish
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
As you work with the artichokes, rub the lemon halves over the cut surfaces of the artichokes to keep them from discoloring. Trim the artichoke bases so that they stand upright. Pull off any small leaves from the base, rubbing with the cut lemon as you go. Cut 1 – 2 inches off the top of the artichokes, then cut about 1/2 inch off the points of the rest of the leaves, again rubbing with the lemon as you go.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Throw in a small handful of salt (about 2 tablespoons) and the bay leaves. Squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon into the pot and drop in the halves. Add the trimmed artichokes and simmer until the bases of the artichokes can be pierced easily with a knife, 15-20 minutes.

Drain upside down in a colander. When cool enough to handle, gently pull open the leaves in the center of the artichokes and scoop the inedible choke (the hairy thistles) out with a spoon or melon baller.

Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. In a large skillet, melt the 1 c. butter over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, and stir to coat them evenly. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are crisp and golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl and reserve.

Add the remaining butter to the same skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened but not browned. Stir in the lemon juice. Add to the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Mix in the cheese and parsley thoroughly.

If you are using shrimp, reserve 4 for garnish, and coarsely chop the rest. Add the chopped shrimp and/or crabmeat to the breadcrumb mixture. If you’re using crabmeat, stir in very gently to keep the pieces of crab as large as possible. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lay each artichoke on a large square of heavy duty aluminum foil. Divide the stuffing into fourths. Starting with the bottom leaves, pull back the outer leaves and stuff a spoonful of the breadcrumb/crab mixture into the openings. Continue until you get to the paler inner leaves, then fill the center cavity with the remaining mixture. Bring up the ends of the foil and crimp to seal.

Place a steamer basket or Chinese bamboo steamer large enough to hold the artichokes over boiling water. You may need to use two, or do this in a couple of batches. Cover and steam the artichokes for 20 minutes. Remove with tongs. If you’ve had to do this in batches, put the steamed artichokes into an oven set to its lowest temperature while the others steam.

Carefully tear away the foil and, using a wide spatula, place each artichoke on a large plate or bowl. Sprinkle with a little additional parsley and put a whole shrimp in the center, if using. Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a main course, 8-12 as an appetizer.
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