This is one of my all-time favorites. My grandmother Dot Luquet used to make this all the time as I was growing up, and it's just luscious. As I don't have Granny's recipe handy, I'll provide a similar one from an Uptown New Orleans institution: Franky and Johnny's Restaurant, on Arabella Street, one of New Orleans' great neighborhood restaurants.

Slice off the pointed ends of each artichoke. Rub a lemon on the cut ends to prevent browning. Slice off the stem end of each artichoke so that they sit up straight.

Fry the bacon until crisp; drain. Crumble into a bowl, and mix in the next 9 ingredients.

Spread the leaves of each artichoke as much as possible, and pack in a generous amount of stuffing around them. Tap each artichoke gently to let any loose stuffing fall off. Stand them in a casserole or roasting pan just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add water to a depth of 1-1/2 inches.

Pour a generous amount of olive oil over each artichoke, letting it seep in. Top each artichoke with a slice of lemon. Bring the water to a boil, cover, lower the heat and steam the artichokes until the leaves pull off easily, at least 1 hour or more. Check the water level after about 25 minutes, and add more if necessary.

Serve hot or warm. The stuffed artichokes can be prepared in advance and reheated before serving. Leftover stuffing keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator and longer in the freezer. Option: sprinkle grated Parmagiano Reggiano cheese over the top and place briefly under a broiler until cheese melts and begins to brown. Yield: 6 2-person servings.


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Chuck Taggart   email chuck (at) gumbopages (dot) com