- 5 cups fine dry unseasoned breadcrumbs, preferably homemade (see Note)
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup minced fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (green tops only)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or less, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced anchovies (about 8 canned anchovy fillets)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 lemons, halved
- 4 large (10-ounce) globe artichokes
In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, Pecorino, parsley, basil, green onions, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne, and stir well to blend. In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil with the hot water, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and whisk to blend. Drizzle the olive oil mixture over the breadcrumbs, and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the garlic and anchovies and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the hot oil-garlic mixture over the breadcrumb mixture, and stir to blend. Set the stuffing aside.
Fill a large nonreactive Dutch oven with 1 inch of water. Add the 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, the salt, and a lemon half, cut into pieces. Heat over medium-low heat while you prepare the artichokes. (If the water comes to a boil before the artichokes are stuffed, cover the pot and keep warm.)
Slice off the upper third of each artichoke, and rub the cut portions with a lemon half. Trim the stems to about 1/2 inch, so that the artichokes will sit upright. Using scissors, trim the thorns from the ends of the remaining leaves; remove any damaged leaves with a paring knife. Using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the choke and the hairy portion of each artichoke, leaving a cavity in the center for stuffing. Rub or squeeze the lemon half over all the cut portions of each artichoke.
One at a time, stuff the artichokes: Beginning with the outer leaves and progressing towards the middle, stuff the leaves with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing lightly to compact the stuffing. When you reach a place where the leaves are too tight to pry apart, fill the center cavity with stuffing. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Cut one of the remaining lemon halves into thin slices, and top each artichoke with a lemon slice. Squeeze the remaining lemon half over the artichokes, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil over each artichoke.
Place the artichokes in the Dutch oven—ideally they should fit tightly in the pot so as to hold each other upright during cooking. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, covered, testing the artichokes occasionally, until the leaves are very tender and pull away easily, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the artichokes from the pot and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm, drizzled with some of the cooking juices if desired.
Note: Homemade breadcrumbs can be made fresh or dry. Fresh breadcrumbs are made by placing pieces of fresh, soft bread into a food processor until the desired size of crumb is reached. Dry breadcrumbs are often made from day-old French bread that has been cubed and either left to dry or toasted in a low oven until dry. The cubes are then cooled and processed in a food processor until the desired size of crumb is reached. Any sort of seasoning or flavoring can be added to either fresh or dry breadcrumbs—many folks drizzle with olive oil and add chopped fresh herbs or finely grated cheese. Homemade fresh and dry breadcrumbs should not be used interchangeably, but both can add a nice texture to a dish.