Prepping & Cooking Artichokes
Artichokes can be extremely intimidating, but they are so delicious and extremely good for you. In this post, that is a follow up on the Artichokes post from earlier in the week (July 13), I want to take some of the fear out of how to prep and cook an artichoke.
When purchasing baby artichokes (baby versions of regular artichokes), know that while they are easier to prep since they have not developed the choke yet, it takes quite a lot of baby artichokes to add up to a full side dish- I often use them as a garnish. They are tender and flavorful, yet milder than their more mature counterparts. To prep a baby artichoke, simply cut off the stem, remove all the outside petals until you get down to a pale green/yellow (the heart), snip off the top ½ inch, slice in half lengthwise and you are done. It is best to soak them in a bit of lemon water while prepping if you are not going to use them immediately to try to deter some of the oxidation (which impacts color, but not the flavor). A great way to serve these baby artichokes is simply to pan fry them in olive oil and then season them liberally with salt.
How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke
- Prep time: 5 minutes
- Cook time: 35 minutes
When you are at the supermarket buying artichokes, choose those in which the petals are still tightly closed, not open. They will be fresher and more tender than artichokes where the petals have opened. Also, artichokes that have been "frost kissed" are especially tender and delicious. They'll look like they are a little burned by frost, so won't be as pretty as those not frost bitten.
- 1 or more large globe artichokes
- 2 cloves of garlic, no need to peel
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lemon
- Cut off the tips of the petals; if the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the petals, take kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the petals. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and won't actually hurt the person eating the artichoke.
- Slice off the top of the artichoke; slice about ¾- inch to an inch off of the tip of the artichoke. A chef's knife or a serrated utility knife is the best tool for this task. Rub cut end with lemon to slow oxidation process.
- Remove small petals at the base; pull off any smaller petals towards the base and on the stem.
- Cut off excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter and fiberours than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. Alternatively, you can leave the whole long stem on the artichoke (just cut off the very end of the stem) and peel the tough outside layer of the stem with a vegetable peeler.
- Rinse the artichokes in running cold water. While you rinse them, open up the petals a little so that the water gets inside more easily. (This is where it helps to have cut off the thorny tips, it makes the artichoke easier to open without getting poked!)
- Set up a pot with some water, aromatics, and a steaming basket; in a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove or two of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket.
- Steam the artichokes by placing them on top of the steaming basket. Cover the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.
- Cook for about 25 to 45 minutes, or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.
Note: artichokes can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (about 15-20 minutes cooking time) or Instapot (10-15 minutes). Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is- obviously the larger, the longer it takes to cook.
How to Eat an Artichoke
Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot, but I in my opinion steamed artichokes are much better hot. Serve with a dip, such as a truffle mayonnaise or a lemon herb aioli (which is my personal favorite).
- Pull off outer petals, one at a time. Dip white fleshy end in sauce.
- Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.
- Continue until all of the petals are removed.
- With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the choke) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.
If you choose to grill the artichokes, rather than simply steaming to get that smokey unctuous flavor, then simply clean artichoke first, steam, then grill. Here the preparation steps in greater detail:
- Cut off the tips of the petals; if the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the petals, take kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the petals.
- Slice off the top of the artichoke; slice about ¾- inch to an inch off of the tip of the artichoke.
- Cut artichoke in half lengthwise. A chef's knife or a serrated utility knife is the best tool for this task.
- Use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the fuzzy chokes and the small inner artichoke leaves. Rub fresh lemon juice all over the inside and exposed cut areas of the artichokes.
- Heat the water as described above in the large pot with a steamer rack on high. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium high and place the artichoke halves, cut side down on the steam rack.
- Cover. Steam about 20 minutes, until you can easily pull off the outer leaves, and you can pierce the heart easily with a knife. The artichokes can be just a tiny bit less cooked than would be typically perfect for steamed artichokes, as you will be cooking them further on the grill.
- Prepare your grill for direct, high heat. Brush the artichoke all over with the herb infused oil or EVOO, and season well with salt. Place the artichoke halves cut-side-down on the grill grates. Cover, and grill for 5 to 10 minutes, until you have nice grill mark on the cut sides of the artichokes.
- Serve with an aioli or remoulade and be ready to impress!