Choose a heavy-based stockpot that fits all of the artichokes (standing up). To make the ‘soffritto’ (sautéed base flavouring), heat the olive oil and butter in the stockpot over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrot and bay leaves. Cook for a few minutes, then add the peas to the soffrito and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
Place the breadcrumbs in a medium-sized bowl and pour the milk over to soak for a few minutes. Add the mince (ground meat), egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, parsley and garlic to the bowl with milk soaked breadcrumbs. Season well with salt and pepper.
To prepare the artichokes: Juice half of the lemon and pour into a large bowl of water. Use disposable gloves when handling the artichokes. Wash the artichokes under cold running water and drain. Carefully cut one artichoke close to the base so it can stand up on its own. Use the remaining half lemon to rub over the cut edge and prevent discolouration. Cut 2-3 cm off the top of the artichoke and again rub with the half lemon. Pull or cut off and discard the rough, outer artichoke leaves. Use a teaspoon to scoop out and discard the furry choke. Place the artichoke in the bowl of water with lemon juice. Repeat with remaining artichokes.
Separate the leaves of an artichoke. Fill the leaves with the mince mixture, then transfer to the stockpot with vegetable stock. Repeat with the remaining artichokes and generously drizzle extra virgin olive oil over all the artichokes.
Note: the artichokes should be covered in liquid half way – you may need to adjust the amount of vegetable stock added to the stockpot.
Cook over low heat, covered for 40 minutes or until the artichokes are tender.
Meanwhile preheat the grill setting of the oven to 180°C (350° Fahrenheit/Gas 4). Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Transfer the artichokes to the baking tray. Sprinkle with extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top and brown under the grill for 10 minutes or until lightly golden on top – buon appetito.
Note: Buy the best quality artichokes your money can buy. Look for artichokes with tight, compact heads and fresh-looking stems, otherwise your artichokes will be tough and dry.