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Shrimp & Bacon Stuffed Artichokes

In California we are extremely lucky to have an abundance of amazing produce. Especially some that aren’t as available in other parts of the country, such as avocados and artichokes. Fall is a special time of year in California. We can’t compete with the change of colors in the east, or the football culture in the mid west, however we do have artichoke and crab season. When driving down the coast, you will see some pop up fruit and vegetable stands selling 10-12 artichokes for $1. Unheard of anywhere else. I love artichokes, and was excited to try out some new dishes at a family weekend get away.

This dish was inspired from a stuffed artichoke I had during my stay in Italy, which was stuffed with pancetta, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and mint. I initially wanted to use crab, but it wasn’t quite in season yet, so I went with shrimp. So, the filling would be minced shrimp, bacon and mint, all combined together and stuffed inside the main cavity of the artichoke. Now, cleaning the artichokes takes a bit of time, and good knife skills. It isn’t very straight forward, and to the untrained may take butchering one or two until you get the hang of it. So, my artichokes were peeled, topped, split, and choke removed, and then I par-boiled them with some lemon juice to help the cooking process. The shrimp and bacon mixture wouldn’t need long in the oven, so I wanted to get the artichokes pretty close to cooked before that step. After about 20-30 minuets, I pulled the artichokes from the water and let them dry, before stuffing. The protein mixture was then stuffed inside the artichoke, drizzled with olive oil, and placed face down on a baking sheet. Then into the oven they went. 400* for about 10-15 minutes.

When I pulled them out of the oven, the smell of the bacon, shrimp and artichokes spread through the house and everyone was hovering over the stove. I quickly mixed up a dipping sauce of melted butter, salt and a bit of paprika. The artichokes looked beautiful, and they tasted just as good. The only improvement would be to making them a bit smaller and easier to eat, but man were they tasty!