In my previous artichoke post, I realized that I never got into the most basic way to prepare and eat an artichoke. Based on several of your comments, it sounds like a basic primer would be of interest. In this post, you’ll see how easy it is to steam an artichoke (and eat it!). I won’t lie – it requires a little prep, but the end result is soooo worth it!
Let’s get started, shall we?
As you can see here, the supplies you’ll need are quite simple – a knife, scissors, and if you’re lucky, a Mickey Mouse butt cutting board. If you don’t have one, a regular cutting board will do.
First, if there are any tough, small leaves near the base of the artichoke, you’ll want to remove those. Don’t get too aggressive – just the real buggers! After that, trim the thorny tips off the leaves like so:
Once the tips are all trimmed, cut off the top 3/4 to 1 inch of the artichoke using a sharp knife. If it’s “squeaky” when you’re cutting it, that means you’ve got a good artichoke in your hands! If it doesn’t squeak, well…I don’t know. (ha! Just kidding. Kinda)
Rinse the cut and trimmed artichokes under cold water:
Now it’s time to steam them. If you’ve got a steamer, or lots of kitchen storage where you could store a steamer, that’s great. My kitchen is tiny, so I jury-rigged one out of a plate balanced on top of a ramekin. Just call me MacGyver.
If you’ve got these things available, you’ll want to add in some lemon, garlic and a bay leaf to herb things up a bit. If you don’t, no worries – your artichokes will still be splendiferous.
Place the artichokes in your steaming device, cover, and bring to a boil:
Once you hear the water boiling rapidly, lower the flame down to a simmer. You’ll want to steam these artichokes until a bottom leaf pulls off easily. I’m working with baby artichokes, so it took me about 23 minutes. For larger artichokes, it will take longer – just keep an eye on it.
For this type of preparation, the yummy “meaty” parts are the fleshy base of each leaf, and the artichoke heart. You can eat them plain, dipped in melted butter, mayo, or whatever your heart desires. For this demonstration, I chose (duh) melted butter:
First, you will tackle the leaf bases. Pull off a leaf:
You see that white part near the base? That’s where the good stuff is. Dip the base into butter (or whatever dip you prefer. But really, butter. Try it.), place the leaf in your mouth butter side down, and use your bottom teeth to remove the fleshy meat. Savor. Place leaf to the side. Move on to a new leaf. Repeat. Mmmmm….
(By the way, I tried to take a picture demonstrating how to eat an artichoke, but 1 – I haven’t got the camera timer thing down 100% yet, and 2 – the pictures came out funny, like “hey, here’s me eating an artichoke! Close-up of my mouth!” Yeah, I know that’s what it is, but still. Anyway. You know what I mean, right?)
Keep on pulling and dipping to your heart’s content until all the leaves are gone. After a while, the artichoke will look like this:
Ah, no more leaves! Nakie artichoke. But not to worry, the best is yet to come. So, that hairy fibrous stuff in the middle is called the choke. You don’t want to eat that. So using a knife or spoon, dig all that stuff out to get to the artichoke heart underneath:
I hope this tutorial was useful and removed some of the mystery in artichoke preparation. You can see that it’s a bit involved, but you can make a few at once, and seriously? Once you try one, you’ll be hooked. Good luck and have fun!
Have you steamed artichokes before? Any tips to offer?