A strong contender for "Favorite Cookbook of the Season" is Brooklyn Chef Rawia Bishara's Olives, Lemons & Za'atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking. Her Bay Ridge restaurant, Tanoreen, has been recognized by critics and media alike as one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in New York. Update your "must-visit" list and make these lamb and beef–stuffed artichokes with meat and pine nuts for dinner tonight.
Nobody in Nazareth prepared artichokes this way; my mother brought the idea back from a long weekend away in a nearby town. When I arrived in the States, I found that my Syrian friends had long been making stuffed artichokes with spiced meat and pine nuts — and I realized just how much my mother’s cooking was influenced by neighboring nations.
In Galilee, artichoke season was roughly March through May. Of course, these days every vegetable is available almost all year long, but there is something poetic about eating certain foods for a short time each year. My father would buy a box of fresh artichokes for my mother, who would spend the afternoon peeling and cleaning the large, spiky vegetables in order to stuff them. I loved to help her. Using frozen artichokes is much faster — and a perfectly acceptable way to make this dish. The heart will have a slightly different texture but it is still delicious! Serve with rice pilaf.
- 8 (8-ounce) fresh artichokes, or 16 to 24 frozen, depending on the size (size 8 is the largest, 24 is the smallest)
- 1 cup corn oil
- 4 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch of cardamom (optional)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds ground lamb from the leg or ground beef
- 1/2 to 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/2 to 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 2 large lemons, halved
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken stock
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Clean the fresh artichokes, if using. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Heat the corn oil in a large skillet over high until hot. Slide the artichokes into the pan and saute on the stem side for 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the artichokes over and fry on the open side for 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray, open-end down, to drain. Arrange the artichokes, stem end down, in a large baking dish and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the allspice, pepper, nutmeg and cardamom, if using. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and half of the spice mixture, stirring to combine, and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat loses its pink color.
- Toss in the pine nuts and almonds, the juice of 1 lemon and the salt. Stir to thoroughly combine and turn off the heat. Divide the meat mixture among the artichokes, filling them to almost overflowing and tucking in between the leaves. Reserve any remaining meat mixture.
- Add the juice of the remaining lemon and the stock to the reserved spice mixture. Drizzle the seasoned broth over the artichokes and pour the rest into the baking pan. Distribute the reserved meat mixture in the broth in the pan.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1 hour if using fresh artichokes, 20 minutes if using frozen.
- Remove the foil from the pan, reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the broth has thickened.
- Arrange the artichokes on individual plates with rice pilaf. Garnish with the parsley and serve.
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