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Qaqocc Mimli - Stuffed Artichokes by Mona Farrugia

For Mona Farrugia nothing brings back an earthy, salty Proustian moment lika eating qaqocc mimli so she dedicates this truly fantastic dish to the person who knows how to make it most: her mother.


 
Qaqocc Mimli - Stuffed Artichokes by Mona Farrugia

Information

Main Ingredient Globe artichokes
Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 1 hour
Course Main
Recipe Serves 4
Recipe Type Traditional: MalteseLow-carb
January and February are globe artichoke season in Malta. My mother is not really known for her culinary prowess (although she likes to believe otherwise) but when it comes to stuffed artichokes, the smell of them cooking and the hours spent scraping the leaves against my teeth when she cooked them is most definitely my Proustian moment.

There are a lot of ‘secrets’ surrounding recipes for this, but I am always on the lookout to discover the real Maltese dishes and sharing them. There are no secret recipes with me.

Stuffed artichokes – qaqocc mimli – are truly peasant food. We Maltese usually wait a little until the artichokes have become cheap, and the ingredients that go into them are cheap too. Yet the end result is just amazing. Heat does it all.

As we went along, people started to stuff qaqocc with ‘fillers’ such as breadcrumbs (leftover bread, not stuff you buy in packets) and tuna. The former is good for the retention of humidity within what is essentially a very big thistle and tuna – well, that came later. Tinned tuna was not around a hundred years ago, not to mention that cooked, tinned tuna becomes very dry. I therefore leave both ingredients out.

For all the Maltese living out of Malta, there is every possibility that you can find all the ingredients listed here without any problems. It will take you half an hour to prepare them and because there is so much chopping and slamming involved, this is a very relaxing dish. Think of the artichokes being the face of someone you really detest and you’ll be so chilled out when you’re ready. All you need to do is pour yourself some Chablis and the hour they need to cook will whiz by.
Method

For 8 artichokes


Prepare a large bowl to throw the chopped bits into


1. This is my secret: instead of using breadcrumbs, I cut off around 6 inches of stem from the base of the artichoke, peel the outside, then chop the tender inside into small rough bits. When this hits oxygen, it turns a little black. Don’t worry about this: when they cook, you won’t notice anything anyway.


2. Put the artichokes to one side


3. Take 16 black olives and smash them with the base of a clean glass or jar. Prize out the stones and throw them away, then chop the olives into rough small pieces.


4. Some people add capers; I mostly leave them out. There is enough saltiness from the olives and the anchovy fillets. But if you feel like capers, add around 12, chopped.


5. Add 4 local fresh garlic stems, trimmed of the rough green parts and roots, chopped into small bits.


6. Trim a very large bunch of parsley (this is the ‘sweet’ element to offset all the saltiness) from their stems (throw these away into the recycling bin) into just leaves, and chop them small but rough


7. Chop around 10 anchovy fillets. I like to use the ones in jars (rather than in tins) of olive oil. I remember my mum used to put the tinned ones in some milk to soften them and remove the saltiness, but I find that once cooked, the ones in the jars don’t have any artificial saltiness in them anyway.


8. Mix all the chopped bits with your hands in the bowl.


9. Now the fun bit: under cold running water, place the artichoke top-side down and smash.  Yes, smash, until the leaves have opened up, making it easy for you to stuff.  Do this with all the artichokes. You can imagine it is one person’s face or 8, depending on your anger.


10. My mother places cauliflower florets and cabbage to cook in the salty water, and I love doing this too. So, slice around half a cabbage into 1 cm rings and place this on the bottom of a large, around 6 inch high, pan.


11.  Then place around 6 cauliflower florets on top of these.


12. Place the artichokes firmly within the vegetables and start to stuff roughly. My artichokes are usually ready to explode by the time I’ve put all the filling inside them.


13. Add around two inches of water to the bottom of the pan


14. Place it on a high heat and bring to the boil


15. Switch down to a very low heat and leave to simmer for around an hour.


16. I serve with the cauliflower and cabbage on the side, drizzled in some really nice local olive oil.


17. The best bit of this dish is the tinned tuna (uncooked, of course) and kunserva (tomato paste) you serve on the side. I like Rio Mare in olive oil best but hey, if you want the cheap crap, I’m not stopping you.


18. Just bloody wonderful.


19. Sit in front of the tv with a huge napkin on one side and a very large bowl on the other, scraping the stuffed leaves against your teeth and mmmm-ing.


20. Stuffed artichokes are known as being the kind of food that makes you so anti-social that you need to spend the next day not meeting anybody. I promise you that if you leave the breadcrumbs out, you can get on with the rest of your life no matter when you eat them.

 

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Yvonne Brincat Banchero
March 01, 2011
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My mom use to make this and now I have been doing it, I also use
green onions that I chop and mix with the mixture... in matter of fact I am cooking one today... Just love it.

 
 
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