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Artichoke Poppers

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Mellow artichoke hearts are stuffed with herbed mascarpone cheese and salty bites of pancetta, then rolled in crispy panko and baked until gooey on the inside with a crunchy, garlic-infused crust.

Servings: Makes 16 poppers

Ingredients:
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

Breading ingredients:
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)

Directions:
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.

Chef’s notes:
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.

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  1. Wicked Good Dinner says:

    >Food Safety – Julia from http://www.assaggiare.com/ reminds everyone to discard the leftover garlic-infused oil as it can harbor bacteria.

    Thanks for the GREAT tip, Julia!!

  2. >these look SO yummy. now if i just had the time….. :)

  3. >This is brilliant—and we adore pancetta (okay ALL bacon infused dishes, sides, appies, treats…).

  4. >These look great!

  5. >These look amazing! I am definitely bookmarking them. They look like perfect party food!

  6. Wicked Good Dinner says:

    >Thanks Megan! Just made them again the other night – so yummy!

  7. >Fantastic!

    One dilemma- livin' in the Midwest. We're lucky to find panko yet alone Italiain panko bread crumbs.
    Just add parmesan and seasonings to regular panko? Or do you have a brand, source I could locate online?

  8. Wicked Good Dinner says:

    >Hi CJ,

    I've been using Progresso Panko – they have plain and Italian style. It's a little bit on the salty side, but holds up well with this recipe since the cheese is so mild.

    If you can't find the Italian style, it's so easy to make your own, using one of two methods: dry or wet.

    The dry method is super quick – mix the bread crumbs with cheese, garlic powder, herbs, and a little bit of salt and pepper, in a bowl, and use as-is.

    Or, you can mix the crumbs and herbs (minus the cheese), plus one crushed garlic clove, in a bowl with olive oil – just enough to barely moisten the crumbs – and bake them in a 250 F oven for about an hour or until they're just about dry again. This method takes more time (but adds more flavor), so I recommend doing a large batch and saving the extra in an air-tight container.

    Regular Italian style bread crumbs work, too. I use the Progresso Panko because it's been one of the only brands I can find without soy. All of the other bread crumbs, including Progresso's regular bread crumbs all have soy, soybean oil or soy lecithin — I'm allergic to all of that :-(

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