Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Stuff your vegetables

In this final installment of posts about my cooking class at the Villa Bordoni, I want to take a look at stuffed vegetables. We stuffed artichokes, which have their own challenges, but Chef Collin assured us we could also use this same delicious stuffing in other vegetables. Think zucchini for example, but let your imagination go wild. Look at the vegetables that are in season in your area and take it from there. 

Lots of people in the U.S. are only familiar with canned artichokes, often mixed with cheese and made into a dip. Fresh artichokes require a totally different technique. Before stuffing them, you must first remove the tough outer leaves and the center, then keep them from oxidizing (turning brown) while cooking and while waiting to be stuffed. Here are Chef Collin’s steps for preparing the artichokes. Keep in mind he grams in his measurements. If you’re using your kitchen scale and can set it to grams, you won’t have to translate the amounts.

1)      Prepare stock for cooking artichokes with water, white wine, bay leaf, a pinch of peppercorns and a clove of garlic. (I remember him adding lemon juice either to this step or to #5 below, but it’s not in his written instructions. Also, he cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the pot when boiling to reduce oxidation.)
2)      Remove tough outer leaves from 8 large artichokes.
3)      Trim off the stalk and scoop out the center, making sure to remove all of the choke.
4)      Boil artichokes in prepared stock for 7 – 8 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick to see if they are tender.
5)      Remove from stock and plunge them into iced water to preserve color.
6)      Remove artichokes from water, pat dry and place on baking tray.

Next comes the filling.
Vegetable filling
500 G Tuscan Bread (think artisan bread)
200 G sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
300 G Pecorino cheese (medium aging) chopped
1 clove garlic
1 handful of parsley
extra virgin olive oil

Cut off bread crust and place bread in bowl. Cover with water for a few minutes then squeeze out well and crumble. Chop garlic and parsley finely and add to bread. Add other ingredients. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Fill artichokes with stuffing, push it inside to be sure it’s firmly filled. If any tomatoes are on top, remove them as they will burn. Bake at 190 C for 15 – 20 minutes until top is golden brown.

To make serving your artichokes even more elegant, try making Chef Collin’s white sauce to go on the plate beneath the artichokes.

White Sauce
20 G butter
20 G flour
300 G Pecorino
100 G Parmesan
500 G milk
salt and pepper

Make a rue by melting the butter in a heavy sauce pan and adding the flour, stirring vigorously. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. When the sauce is smooth and almost boiling, remove from stove and stir in cheese. Season to taste.

This was my favorite dish of the evening. Artichokes are not abundant here, but I can find plenty of other vegetables that I’ll be stuffing, maybe even during this upcoming holiday season.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to try stuffing zucchini like this! My sad little zucchini boats I made this summer didn't come out very well. —Ellen