Marcella Hazan says, "Whenever I have demonstrated this dish, professional cooks...were startled at how dark I allowed the artichokes to get. But it is only then, when they have deeply and confidently browned, that they develop flavor, sapore."
|8||artichokes (see note)|
|2 T||olive oil|
|4 clv||garlic (peeled)|
|2 T||butter (divided)|
|1⁄3 c||Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)|
|8 oz||mozzarella (sliced thin, no thicker than 1/4")|
Trim the artichokes of the tough inedible portions of their leaves. Cut into quarters. As you trim them, drop them into a large bowl of water with the lemon squeezed into it. You can prepare the artichokes up to this point several hours in advance. When you're ready to cook them, drain and rinse them.
Heat olive oil and garlic cloves over medium high heat in a skillet large enough to hold the artichokes in a single layer without being crowded. Cook the garlic, stirring occasionally, until it is light golden-brown. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and discard. Arrange the artichokes in the pan. Cook for at least 25 minutes, until completely tender. Turn frequently until browned all over. If they start sticking to the pan, add 2-3 teaspoons of water and gently loosen them with a wooden spoon.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter an 8x11-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Place the artichokes and any juices from the skillet in the baking dish, and sprinkle with half of the grated parmiggiano. Top with the sliced mozzarella, then finish with remaing parmiggiano and last tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces.
Bake just until the mozzarella melts and begins to turn light brown. Serve at once, with some crusty bread.
If fresh artichokes aren't in season, you can use 2 lbs. of baby artichokes. Just slice in half lengthwise to prepare them.