Sausage Stuffed Artichokes
Ripieni di Salsiccia
There are some things that obviously do not translate from Europe to Australia. Winter is one of them. Sydney is in a climatically temperate belt and temperatures never dip as low as Europeans or most Americans would be familiar with during the colder months. I love that a European winter turns your apartment balcony into an extension of your refrigerator. Leaving milk on the outside windowsill is something I learned to do while living in Europe. This would definitely never happen in Sydney, Australia, where any food left outside of a fridge for a few hours will be approached with caution. Regardless of this, salami has to be made sometime, and it is the cold that determines when it should be done. In Italy my parents would customarily make enough salami for the year, plus a bit more. The period of Carnevale is the traditional time for slaughtering a pig and getting everyone on board to make the most out of every little bit of it.
Last Tuesday was my parent’s Mardi Gras. Forty kilos of pork shoulder and leg were butchered to yield twenty-four kilos of minced pork (including some fat). Add to this, 25 grams per kilo of salt and the desired amount of pureed hot chili and sweet red peppers. This is rubbed through thoroughly, by hand, until the meat looks homogeneously mixed. This is inserted either into a hand cranked or motor driven grinder (minus any cutting blades), which will extrude it into lengths of pig intestine. The ends of the filled intestine are tied off with string, which will contain the meat in the sausage. This is left to settle for a day and then strung up to dry for a month with a little maintenance to wipe them occasionally. They are taken down and stored in a cool dry place to dry out further. And then you have salami.
I have sat with my parents on many occasions as my father stuffs the grinder with the pork mixture, my mum encases it into the innards of the same pig and I tie each sausage off at the end. On this occasion we recruited my nephews to take my place while I took photos. An early morning start is the norm, this ensures the meat is only out in the coldest part of the day. After all the hard and messy work is over, it is almost time for my favourite part of the salami-making day. Lunch.
Mum usually makes a pasta with little minced pork bits but this year I hijacked the lunch making and in addition to the pasta I used some of the pork mince to stuff a few artichokes. The pork can be mixed with anything you like and it can be more experimental but it’s hard to go wrong if you follow my mum’s recipe for pork meatballs.
500g / 1.1lb pork mince
I large handful of fine bread crumbs
2 large handfuls of grated Parmiggiano cheese
3 whole eggs
2 chopped cloves of garlic (optional)
1 large handful of calamint. Parsley and mint are good substitutes if you don’t have calamint.
Mix all these ingredients in a large bowl and add some salt and pepper.
Clean and prepare 10-12 medium sized artichokes.
Leave a cavity in the artichokes for the stuffing and place them into lemon water until they are ready to cook.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
Remove the artichokes from the lemon water and place into the boiling water and leave for 5-8 minutes after the water has resumed boiling.
Scoop out with a slotted spoon and refresh under cold running water to cool them down.
Once refereshed, shake off any excess water.
Place them in a large bowl and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over them and sprinkle with a little salt.
Mixed the artichokes by hand and ensure that all the outer surfaces of the artichokes are coated in oil.
Stuff the cavity you made in the artichoke with some of the pork mince mixture and jam it in tightly.
Place the artichokes stem side up and set aside.
Once all the artichokes are stuffed, flatten out the pork mince at the opening of the artichoke cavity. (If you have any remaining pork mixture, you can make simple meatballs that can be fried, baked or grilled.)
Try using a large heavy based pan that can go from the stovetop directly to the oven.
Heat a little olive oil in the pan and place the artichokes into the pan with the stem side up.
They only need a few minutes on a lively heat to seal the meat into the artichokes.
Remove the pan from the stove and place directly into the mid level of a preheated oven at 180 degrees.
Cook these for a further half hour or until you can slip the point of a knife into the heart. (sounds so dramatic)
Because they are blanched, they will not colour as they would if raw. Blast them, on the upper level of the oven, for a short burst if they haven’t gained any colour.
Remove from the heat immediately and arrange in a serving dish and call out ‘lunch is ready’.
This can be used as a main meal and served with other cooked seasonal vegetables and a light salad.
I tried something similar to this, using halved and quartered artichokes, attaching the meat to the choke and then deep frying them.
This is a hit as a finger food.
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