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Veal meatballs with baby artichokes

I remember the first time I tasted tender veal meatballs with the southern Italian flavors of fennel, green olives and baby artichokes. The ingredients suggested olive groves and rocky coastlines, yet the atmosphere in which I was savoring them was ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours | Serves 6
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced onion ( 1/8-inch dice)
  • 1/2 cup diced fennel bulb ( 1/8-inch dice)
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional shaved Parmesan for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 12 baby artichokes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped green olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

Step 1Mince 2 cloves of the garlic. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonreactive skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onion, fennel and minced garlic and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool.

Step 2Combine half the cooked onion mixture with the veal, grated Parmesan, parsley, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Step 3Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in the skillet used for the fennel mixture. Form 1 teaspoon of the veal mixture into a small patty and cook on both sides until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly and taste. Add more salt and/or pepper to the veal mixture if desired.

Step 4Form the veal mixture into balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same skillet. Add the meatballs and cook, browning on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 5Thinly slice the remaining garlic clove. Set aside.

Step 6Fill a large bowl with water and add 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Clean the artichokes by removing the tough outer leaves, trimming off the dark green tips of the inner leaves and trimming the stems within one-fourth inch of the bottom of the artichoke. Remove the remaining tough green leaf bases and outer portions of the stems with a peeler. Cut each cleaned artichoke in half lengthwise and put in the bowl with the water and lemon juice. Repeat until all the artichokes are cleaned and halved.

Step 7Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet. Remove the artichokes from the water, pat dry and place cut side down in the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat just until the edges are golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Step 8Add the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, the olives, sage and chicken stock to the artichokes in the pan along with the browned meatballs. Cook over high heat until the liquid comes to a boil, about 5 minutes, then cover the skillet with foil and bake until the artichoke hearts are tender, about 20 minutes.

Step 9Remove the artichokes from the oven and place them on a platter with the meatballs. Season the sauce in the pan with salt and pepper as desired and pour it over the meatballs and artichokes. Sprinkle with the diced tomato and shaved Parmesan and serve.

Note: You may substitute ground turkey for the veal.
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