Servings: Makes 16 poppers
4 large artichoke hearts, cooked and cut into quarters
4 oz Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pancetta, minced and rendered until crisp
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup all purpose flour
Egg wash – 2 eggs beaten with 1/4 cup of milk
2 cups Italian style panko crumbs
1/2 cup garlic infused olive oil (1/2 cup of oil with one smashed garlic clove)
In a medium bowl, mix the mascarpone, parmesan, pancetta, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add approximately 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture to the choke side of the artichoke and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Set up the breading station. Place the flour in one dish, the egg wash in a shallow bowl, and the panko in a separate dish. Remove the artichokes from the freezer. Dredge the artichokes in the flour, dip in the egg wash, coat with the panko, and place onto the same baking sheet. Repeat until all artichokes have been breaded. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the baking sheet into the freezer for another 20 minutes.
Remove the artichokes from the freezer and lightly brush the tops with the garlic-infused olive oil. Bake at 425 F. for 7 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is soft and the breading is golden. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.
Fresh artichokes are best, but canned or frozen can also be used. If using canned, purchase whole artichoke hearts packed in water, not oil. Carefully dry as much of the moisture on the artichokes as possible with a paper towel before breading.
Bacon can be substituted for the pancetta, and cream cheese can be substituted for the mascarpone cheese.
Italian style bread crumbs can be substituted for panko crumbs.
Artichoke poppers may also be deep fried. Remove from the freezer and fry in a neutral oil at 360 F until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack with paper towels under the rack to catch any oil and immediately sprinkle with salt.