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Steamed artichoke (complete with photographic deliciousness!)

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  • Steamed artichoke (complete with photographic deliciousness!)

    I’ve long said that I love artichokes, and in pretty much any form: canned quarters in a salad, on a pizza, in a chicken divan casserole, whole baby artichokes marinated in balsamic vinegar and grilled or broiled, and my long-time personal favorite of a big steamed artichoke eaten leaf-by leaf. They are, in the end, quite a versatile food. If I were stranded on a desert island somewhere, if I had an unlimited supply of artichokes, butter, lemon, and garlic, along with a pretty girl, I could die happy there.

    Now they are close to the perfect food for me: very tasty, reasonably easy to prepare, high in protein, and quite delicious. Now, I will admit that it takes a bit of a knack to know how to get the most out of your artichoke, and that’s part of what this is about, but mostly I think a lot of people are just intimidated by the thought of how to make one of these. Some of that may be due to restaurants almost universally charging a ridiculous premium for anything artichoke-related, thus causing people to think that artichokes are expensive and they don’t want to try it for themselves lest they have an expensive screw-up for a meal, like burning up a filet mignon or something like that. Also, I think that a lot of people think that artichokes are “exotic” and thus somehow specialized, as if the only way to get them is to have some island native harvest them and put them on a plane from Honiara with a circuitous route through Port Moresby and then Dili, where some strapping Polynesian men in loincloths then put them into big canoes and row them to Darwin, from which they are then taken to Sydney and flown around the world. Nope. They are a big crop in California and are neither so romantically exotic nor are they ludicrously expensive.

    The other day I had to run into Whole Foods to check on something else for my SIL and I happened to notice that they had nice-looking artichokes “on sale” for two for $4.50, so I went ahead and picked up a couple. Now, apparently inflation struck while I was in the store because they went from $4.50 to $5.00 somewhere between the produce section and the register, but that’s still not bad, considering one of these is pretty much a whole meal for me, and short of the buck-a-piece nukeables that one gets in the frozen section, you won’t find many meals out there that are that inexpensive overall.

    Now, I said that I got these at Whole Paycheck, which is true, but that’s only because I happened to be in that store at that particular moment. I normally get artichokes that are essentially identical to these for $2.28 each at … (drumroll please) … Wal-Mart. So we’re not talking about something that is hideously expensive nor is it some rare or hard-to-find exotic item. The perception that it is, such as it exists, is just wrong.


    So, without further ado, here is how one goes about steaming an artichoke.

    First, when you get an artichoke at the store, you want one that is full and round, without dried-out leaves. In my experience, seldom do you find a bad-looking artichoke, but some of them are relatively puny in size. Nothing terribly wrong with that, but the bigger, fuller ones will make for considerably more to eat at the same price.


    You want a pot to fit your artichoke, and you’ll most likely need to fit your artichoke to your pot. This is a relatively tall and narrow three-quart saucepan.


    As you can see, just as it came from the store, the artichoke is too tall to let me put a lid on the pot so I’ll have to trim it down.


    The easy way to measure how much you need to cut off is simply to put the artichoke in the pot upside down, then you get a pretty good idea of how much you need to cut. In a perfect world, you want this cut to be just enough to leave the top of your artichoke a little bit proud of the top of the pot. This way, your rounded lid top can help hold the artichoke in place.


    Once you have your artichoke cut to the right size to fit in the pan, you want to add just enough water the cover of the bottom of the pan, usually about 1/4 of an inch. You want enough water to not completely boil away, but you don’t want the bottom of your artichoke boiling in that water. I also like to add a little bit of crushed garlic to the water itself to infuse the artichoke with garlic flavor.


    While it’s not truly necessary to remove the skin from a clove of garlic when using a garlic press, I still prefer to. This can be done most easily using the flat side of a knife. Simply lay the garlic on your cutting board, place the dull side of the knife over the garlic clove, and give you a knife a sharp whack with either the heel of your hand or your fist. Obviously, be careful not to touch the sharpened part of the blade doing this. You do not have to completely crush the garlic to do this; if gentle but firm whack will crack the garlic enough to easily pull the skin off.


    Turn your stove on low as you want the water to barely boil or simmer; you want to steam the artichoke, not boil it. Once your water starts to steam make sure your stove is set on the lowest setting, cover your pot, and steam it for about 40 minutes. How long you will need to steam it will vary depending upon the size of your artichoke; with this particular artichoke I steamed it for about 50 minutes.

    While the artichoke is cooking, in a small, microwave dash safe dish, put together about 3 tablespoons of butter, one to two cloves of garlic which you have pressed, and I like to add a little bit of cracked pepper. Once you have this together you should microwave it carefully for about 30 to 45 seconds; watch closely as this will bubble up and you don’t want it to boil and pop inside your microwave. Once done, set this aside, and you will want to reheat it in a little bit once your artichoke is cooked, but in the meantime, your butter is absorbing the garlic flavor.


    Once you have had your artichoke in for as long as you think it should have been, you will see that it will typically “flower” at the top as you look down upon the artichoke. To test for doneness, use a pair of tongs (or your fingers, but be very careful, as this is very hot and steam is escaping that will scald you quickly) and try to pull a leaf from the interior of the artichoke at least two or three layers in ideally. This should tug out relatively easily without much effort and be tender once you have pulled it out. Remove the artichoke from the heat then using tongs transfer it to a bowl being very careful because the artichoke will be extremely hot.


    While the artichoke is resting in the bowl, and about the same amount of lemon juice as you have butter garlic mix and your microwave safe dish. Reheat this in the microwave, probably about one to one-and-a-half minutes. Again, watch this in the microwave to make sure that it doesn’t boil over and pop inside the microwave. If needed, stop your microwave occasionally, allowing the mixture to cool, stirring slightly, and then resume heating until your mixture is heated through. Once it is heated through, I like to add a little bit of tarragon, some mixed into the mixture, and then a little more as a garnish.

    Now comes the fun part: eating it! You will want to set a “boneyard” to deposit your leaves into as you’re eating. I also recommend a salad dish under your mixture of garlic and butter to help contain drips.


    Many people don’t truly understand how to eat an artichoke like this fully. What you want to do is consume all of the leaves dipping their base into your garlic butter mixture, until you get to the bottom of the artichoke. You will be able to see spines in the artichoke on the heart frequently with a purple center as pictured here.


    The way to remove these spines is to carefully ease them out with a spoon as shown.


    Once you have removed all the spines you’re left with just an artichoke heart. You can do with this as you wish: I personally like to cut it up and let it steep and the garlic butter mix, however, you can save this very tasty, very tender meat of the artichoke and use it in something else if you would like, for example, you can add this to the top of eggs Benedict and when covered with hollandaise sauce this is very tasty with the eggs Benedict indeed. Note: Phillygirl, I am taking requests.



    Enjoy!
    It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
    In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
    Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
    Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

  • #2
    Can I do it in the Instant Pot?
    "Since the historic ruling, the Lovings have become icons for equality. Mildred released a statement on the 40th anniversary of the ruling in 2007: 'I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'." - Mildred Loving (Loving v. Virginia)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
      Can I do it in the Instant Pot?
      Honestly, I don't know. I'm not really an instant pot person, so I'm not really qualified to say intelligently one way or the other.

      I would suspect, if your instant pot produces steam and you can find a way to get your artichoke(s) to stand up in the pot, then I would think that would work. How long you would have to cook one in an instant pot is completely beyond my knowledge, though.
      It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
      In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
      Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
      Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
        Can I do it in the Instant Pot?
        I did a quick google search, and you can do it in the instant pot. Anything that is steamed or boiled can be done in the IP. The recipe I found said to set the ip timer for 10 minutes.
        Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
        Robert Southwell, S.J.

        Comment


        • #5
          I love stuffed artichokes, but I've never tried making them myself. I imagine it's not too hard, but tedious work of it.

          My roommate in college turned me on to spaghetti and artichokes. My grandmother would buy us tons of jarred artichokes (as soon as we mentioned any food that we liked, even in passing, she was a 1980's version of Amazon auto-delivery...we got it in bulk every week! I was a lucky college student when it came to being very well fed by an Italian grandmother that lived 10 minutes away!) and pretty much weekly we had spaghetti with artichokes. Just add a little olive oil, garlic and locatelli-romano cheese (another product brought to us by Grandma, in bulk!)
          Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
          Robert Southwell, S.J.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
            I love stuffed artichokes, but I've never tried making them myself. I imagine it's not too hard, but tedious work of it.

            My roommate in college turned me on to spaghetti and artichokes. My grandmother would buy us tons of jarred artichokes (as soon as we mentioned any food that we liked, even in passing, she was a 1980's version of Amazon auto-delivery...we got it in bulk every week! I was a lucky college student when it came to being very well fed by an Italian grandmother that lived 10 minutes away!) and pretty much weekly we had spaghetti with artichokes. Just add a little olive oil, garlic and locatelli-romano cheese (another product brought to us by Grandma, in bulk!)
            At a little pizza place in St Pete, HRH and I got turned onto pesto artichoke pizza, and a cult was born. Sadly, we've not found a place here that makes it quite as well. When she took a friend with her to go back for a visit (when Mom was still alive), one of the places that was a must-do was pizza at Gianni's. For anyone who might venture to that area, it's in the little strip mall called, IIRC, Tyrone Gardens.
            "Since the historic ruling, the Lovings have become icons for equality. Mildred released a statement on the 40th anniversary of the ruling in 2007: 'I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'." - Mildred Loving (Loving v. Virginia)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
              At a little pizza place in St Pete, HRH and I got turned onto pesto artichoke pizza, and a cult was born. Sadly, we've not found a place here that makes it quite as well. When she took a friend with her to go back for a visit (when Mom was still alive), one of the places that was a must-do was pizza at Gianni's. For anyone who might venture to that area, it's in the little strip mall called, IIRC, Tyrone Gardens.
              That sounds good. I love pesto on pizza. Maybe you could try to make your own?
              Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
              Robert Southwell, S.J.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
                That sounds good. I love pesto on pizza. Maybe you could try to make your own?
                Maybe, some day. Right now, pizza isn't part of my menu, and HRH doesn't really eat enough of any one thing to justify making a whole pizza - even a small one - just for her.
                "Since the historic ruling, the Lovings have become icons for equality. Mildred released a statement on the 40th anniversary of the ruling in 2007: 'I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'." - Mildred Loving (Loving v. Virginia)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
                  Maybe, some day. Right now, pizza isn't part of my menu, and HRH doesn't really eat enough of any one thing to justify making a whole pizza - even a small one - just for her.
                  I know that feeling all too well.
                  Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
                  Robert Southwell, S.J.

                  Comment

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