Stuffed Artichokes

(“Carciofi Ripieni” – “Cacocciuli Chini”)

 

                            Artichoke

 

In Sicily the artichokes are a widely cultivated vegetable and stuffed artichokes are frequently cooked and well liked by the majority of people. 
The stuffed artichokes can be served as a side dish or eaten at the end of dinner and enjoyed with a glass of wine; they can be cooked in an oil and water emulsion, baked, broiled or stewed in a light tomato sauce.
The ingredients used in the stuffing are different from family to family, and from town to town.


 

Stuffed Artichokes Sicilian Style -Cacociuli Chini- Carciofi Farciti alla Siciliana

Stuffed Artichokes Palermo Style- Carciofi Farciti alla Palermitana

Stuffed Artichokes Palermo Style Attuppati - Cooked in Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Artichokes Catania Style - Carciofi Ripieni alla Catanese

Artichokes with Anchovies Stuffing - Carciofi Farcite con acciughe

Stuffed Artichokes Messina Style - Carciofi Ripieni alla Messinese

Stuffed Artichokes Enna Style - Carciofi Ripieni alla Ennese

Stuffed Artichokes Syracuse Style - Carciofi Ripieni alla Siracusana

Stuffed Artichokes Trapani Style - Carciofi Ripieni a Fucuneddu

Stuffed Artichokes Agrigento Style - Carciofi Ripieni all’Agrigentina Cacocciuli ‘a Girgintana

 

 

In general in the eastern part of Sicily, a small amount of breadcrumbs are used, sometime mixed with capers, along with the unfailing garlic, parsley and cheese, In the central part of the Island the stuffing is mostly made without bread but with extra garlic, onion, herbs and either the Piacentino, a local cheese or the pecorino cheese. In other towns very little garlic and breadcrumbs are used and the stuffing is full of flavors made with parsley,  capers, virgin olive oil and either salted anchovies or pecorino cheese. In the provinces of Palermo and Trapani herbed breadcrumbs and caciocavallo or pecorino cheese are the predominant elements and in some old recipes currants, pine and almonds nuts are used to make the stuffing.
Another way to make stuffed artichokes is to simply fill them with parsley, garlic, salt and pepper and cooking them upside down with some olive oil and water for 35/40 minutes or until tender. Every Thursday, at Joe’ of Avenue U, we cooked stuffed artichokes this way, we called themCarciofi in Bianco Farcite and before serving them, we spooned on top of each artichoke some of the cooking liquid remaining in the pot and drizzled each artichokes with a tablespoon of olive oil sautéed with garlic and parsley.
Every household has their own recipe for the stuffing and their own way to cook the artichokes making this popular vegetable into a tasty, delicious and nutritious treat. 
Mainly all cooks use the same basic ingredients but by using more of a component or adding a special element which is abundant locally, that it transforms and enhances the taste and produces a stuffed artichoke with a unique and different flavor.
In the province of Messina, the artichokes are stuffed with cured meat or fresh sausages meat, in the Sicilian countryside the artichokes are roasted in the open fire, simply stuffed with garlic and oil. In the province of Agrigento, roasted artichokes are baked in the open fire inside Spanish tiles covered with another tile topped with burning charcoal. 
In Enna the garlic is mixed with onions and Piacentino Ennese,a local pecorino cheese, without the breadcrumbs, and in Trapani where the anchovies and the capers are present in many preparations, they are the primary taste in the stuffing of the artichokes.


 

                         Stuffed Artichokes

 

In Catania and in the surrounding territories, the stuffed artichokes are very appetizing, even when filled with few and simple ingredients. They are delicately scented with garlic, enriched with both grated and crumbled cheese and fragrant with parsley and pepper. 
In Catania cheese is rarely combined with anchovies.
In our family business, la Focacceria Palermitana – Joe’s of Avenue U-in Brooklyn, stuffed artichokes were one of the items in our menu that would never last to the end of the day, it did not matter how many we had prepared. We stuffed the artichokes with a lot of breadcrumbs, herbs and cheese, exactly the same way that we made at home. Our customers usually ate it as an appetizer or to end the meal with a glass of wine and  enjoyed the tasty and home style artichokes, using their fingers to pick up the leaves heaping with the stuffing, to eat the pulpy part of them. Looking at their face and  their eyes, I knew their thoughts were back to yesterday, when their mother or grandmother made them for the family.