and Saint Joseph’s Day in New Orleans
Even during Lent in the very Catholic city of New Orleans, people still manage to find an excuse for a good party. With Saint Patrick’s Day (which was a whole 4 ½ detoxifying weeks after Mardi Gras this year) comes an excuse for more public drunkenness, parading down streets to live music and dodging whole cabbages tossed from repurposed floats.
Truth be told, I’ve never really been a major fan of the Holiday, the color green, anything leprechaun and I’ve lost my taste for beer since I’ve moved to a cool climate. But I can be easily persuaded to join the party given my love of anything whiskey-related and the fact that the humble cabbage is truly my favorite vegetable. A fact I recently realized after I devoured an entire Savoy cabbage (that I smothered with bacon) and noticed that I always have at least two forms of the stuff in my refrigerator. Right now it’s this really awesome Garlic Dill Pickle Sauerkraut and a mostly empty jar of Kimchee.
The other great Saint’s holiday during Lent that is celebrated in New Orleans like no other city can is Saint Joseph’s Day. And let me tell you. I adore Saint Joseph’s Day in New Orleans.
Maybe it’s the fact that my great, great Grandfather Anthony Bianchini was part of the big Sicilian migration to New Orleans back in the 1880’s. Keep in mind that this was a population of people that influenced the Big Easy melting pot with such monumental contributions as the almighty Muffaletta.
Or, because I am reminded of the fact that my Grandma made the best spaghetti and meatballs. Ever. Period.
Or, because I am reminded of time on my twelfth Saint Joseph’s Day that my Mom and I smuggled ice cold beers, spaghetti and meatballs, and stuffed artichokes into the hospital where my sister had just given birth.
But, most likely the one thing I love the most about this particular holiday is the Altars. It took me a few years of living away from home to realize that most cities don’t have the large, super embedded Sicilian population to warrant such awesomeness as the Saint Joseph’s Day Altar aka The Feast of Saint Joseph.
Imagine an entire altar in a church, orphanage, random living room or some nice ladies’ backyard packed sky-high with food, glorious food. A vast assortment of Creole Italian delicacies lovingly cooked and donated for all who worship to admire and consume. It was one of the few times as a latent homosexual guilt-ridden kid that I was proud to be Catholic.
And, as it turns out, it wasn’t the religion that was calling me to my salvation after all.
It was the FOOD.
So in honor of this past Saint Joseph’s Day, I thought I would share a recipe dear to my heart and soul.
Stuffed Artichokes with Crab
2 Large Artichokes
2 TB Olive Oil
2 TB Butter
6 Garlic Cloves, Minced
8 OZ Crabmeat
½ TSP Kosher Salt
¼ TSP Black Pepper
1/4 TSP Red Chile Flake
1 TB Lemon Juice
3/4 C Breadcrumbs
1 C Grated Parmesan
4 TB Sliced Scallion
2 TB Minced Parsley
½ TSP Kosher Salt
¼ TSP Black Pepper
For the artichokes: Slice off the stem so that artichoke sits flat. Trim the top 2 inches off top of each with a serrated knife. With a pair of scissors, snip off tips of each leaf. With a spoon, remove some of the middle leaves and the choke.
For the filling: Heat olive oil and butter, then add garlic. Cook for 2 minutes over low flame then remove from heat. Add crabmeat, lemon juice, salt and peppers and lightly toss together. Set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add crabmeat mixture and lightly toss everything together.
Divide filling evenly and fill each artichoke center and each leaf with filling. Into a pot large enough to hold the stuffed artichokes, pour about 1 ½” water. Place a small steamer basket (or a plate turned upside down will work too) on bottom of pot. Place artichokes in pot, cover and let steam over medium flame until cooked through about 45-55 minutes.