How to Cook an Artichoke, a Photo Recipe
Artichokes are a member of the thistle family of plants and to look at one you’d never guess it was good to eat. This article is about the Globe Artichoke, not the Jerusalem artichoke which is a root vegetable, totally different from the globe. Properly prepared artichokes are quite delicious but of course you need to know how to eat one. That technique is quite simple; pluck a leaf out of the head and scrape the inside base into your mouth with your front teeth, the rest of the leaf is discarded until you reach the base of the artichoke. If your artichoke was properly prepared in the kitchen; at the base all you will have left is the artichoke bottom, which you can cut and eat in pieces. If you had a lazy cook, when you reach the inside of the artichoke you will have a cluster of purple tinged leaves attached to the “choke”. The “choke is aptly named, it is fuzzy, tough and hairy and must be scraped away to reach the bottom where the good stuff lies. Perhaps the best part of eating an artichoke is in the dipping sauce; this can be as simple as drawn butter, as elegant as Hollandaise as complex as a Cajun or French Remoulade or virtually any sauce or dip that you may prefer.
The origin of the artichoke is uncertain but possibly it comes from North Africa. Artichoke seeds have been found in excavations in Egypt dating back to the Roman period. Artichokes were cultivated in Sicily during the Greek occupation and soon made their way to the Italian mainland to be enjoyed by the Romans. To this day artichokes are a part of the diet in Italy while for much of the rest of the world they remain an insignificant crop in a niche market.
Artichokes also serve as a base for Cynar an Italian bitter apéritif liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants. The dominant flavor among the 13 amongst these is the artichoke (Cynara scolymus), from which the drink derives its name. Cynar is dark brown in color, has a bittersweet flavor, and its strength is 33 proof.
Artichokes are widely believed to make wine taste sweeter, we will leave this up to you but the usual advice when paring wine with a meal with artichokes is to use a highly acidic wine, white or red as you prefer. In fact this is not relegated to wine but anything may taste just a little sweeter due to an acid called cynarin. Cynarin inhibits the sweet detecting taste buds so when you take your next bite of food the cynarin is washed away and the food tastes sweeter than it would otherwise. Harold McGee explains this in his book On Food and Cooking .
Shopping for artichokes
Choose globes that are dark green, heavy, and have "tight" leaves. Don't select globes that are dry looking or appear to be turning brown. If the leaves appear too "open" then the choke is past its prime. You can still eat them, but the leaves may be tough. (Don't throw these away you can always make artichoke soup).
Season for artichokes:
Artichokes are available throughout the year with peak season being from March to May with a smaller crop produced in October .
Nutritionally artichoke is a super star, recent research from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows cooked artichokes are the highest antioxidant source among all fresh vegetables.
Nutritional value per Artichoke, 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 220 kJ (53 cal)
Carbohydrates 10.51 g
Dietary fiber 5.4 g
Fat 0.34 g
Protein 2.89 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.05 mg
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.089 mg
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.111 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.240 mg
Vitamin B6 0.081 mg
Folate (Vit. B9) 89 mg
Vitamin C 7.4 mg
Calcium 21 mg
Iron 0.61 mg
Magnesium 42 mg
Phosphorus 73 mg
Potassium 276 mg
Zinc 0.4 mg
Manganese 0.225 mg
1) In the photo, the knife is placed where the artichoke base should be removed
Cut the stem so the artichoke has a flat bottom
Remove the tip
2) In this photo the knife is placed where the tip should be removed
Trim the leaf tips?
3) This photo shows
some leaf tips already removed and the position for cutting the next leaf tip.
This step is actually a holdover from the time when the artichoke leaves has
thorny tips, thus it is not entirely needed ifyour artichoke has smooth leaf tips
4) This photo shows the purple tinged leaves in the center of the artichoke which has been pulled open to show the center. This center will have to be removed either by the cook or the diner after cooking.
Roasting an artichoke
Boil or Steam Tender
5) To cook simply place in boiling salted water, deep enough to cover, season with garlic and or lemon and place a plate on the artichoke to hold it under water, alternately you can steam the artichoke in a basket over boiling water.
They will usually take 25 minutes or more. To check the artichoke pull on a leaf, if the artichoke is cooked the leaf will pull off easily, if not cook until a leaf comes out easily. Double check by scraping the leaf against your teeth, the flesh should come off on your teeth and not be crunchy.
Remove the choke for your diners
6) These photos show removing the choke, lots of
people leave this step for the diner so the decision is up to you, if you’re
serving it to “newbies” take the choke out and you won’t have diners choking at
dinner. Scrape out the choke with a tablespoon and get every bit
7) Ready to serve, unfold the artichokes onto the plate and you have the perfect spot for a cup to fill with dip.
Many cooks will leave the artichoke closed and serve the sauce on the side, I think this looks better
Dips and Sauces
You almost have to have a dip with your artichoke and the best just might be the simplest, just melted salted butter is terrific, for some other ideas, you might mix a good Balsamic vinegar with mayonnaise, a commercial honey mustard or one of these below:
3 Egg yolks
1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
½ Cup salted butter, cut into bits
Pinch Cayenne pepper
beat together egg yolks, water and lemon juice. Cook In double boiler, over barely simmering water, , stirring constantly, until yolk mixture begins to thicken. Stir in butter, 1 piece at a time, allow the butter to melt and be absorbed by the egg yolk before adding the next bit of butter and sauce will thicken as you add the butter.. Stir cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Remove from heat. Serve warm. Discard if not used immediately. Makes about ¾ cup
Hollandaise can be tricky to make, if the butter separates and the mixture begins to look like scrambled eggs all is not lost! This happens when the butter is added too quickly or the eggs are over cooked. Begin again with another egg yolk or two, beating over simmering water until the new yolks start to thicken, then slowly beat in the broken sauce a bit at a time until it has been absorbed.
3 sticks cold unsalted butter (24 tbsp.),
cut into pats
1⁄4 cup dry white wine
1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. minced shallots
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of white pepper
1⁄2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1. Bring wine and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan; add shallots, salt, and pepper. Lower heat to a simmer; cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. (There should be about 1 1⁄2 tbsp. liquid left. Add water if needed.
2. Remove pan from heat; whisk pats of butter into the vinegar, shallot mixture. Butter is supposed to melt and become creamy so be careful with the heat.
Set pan over low heat and continue whisking butter into sauce a piece at a time, allowing each piece to melt into sauce before adding more.
3. Remove sauce from heat; whisk in lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Serve with fish, poultry, or vegetable
Need a mixer for that cream cheese recipe?
Highly recommended, I have a kitchenaid mixer like this one that was bought in 1971, still using it!
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
1. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2. 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3. 1/3 cup sour cream
4. 1/3 cup mayonnaise
5. 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
6. 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped and drained
7. 2 teaspoons crushed fresh garlic (garlic powder is ok)
8. 1 teaspoon salt
9. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
10. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
11. 1/4 teaspoon paprika
· Soften the cream cheese is at room temperature for an hour or more or it will be too stiff to mix
· Freshly grated Parmesan works much better than the dry stuff in a jar, fresh will melt into the sauce.
· Frozen spinach is available packed loosely in a bag; this product can be added directly without thawing.
· Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.
· If you have an electric mixer use it with a paddle attachment
1. Blend the cream cheese, with the Parmesan, sour cream, mayonnaise, spinach, garlic, salt and cayenne.
2. When the cream cheese mixture is well blended stir in the artichokes, mix only well enough to blend
3. Spread in a small casserole.
4. Sprinkle extra grated Parmesan over the top and dust lightly with paprika.
5. Bake until the top is golden brown, about a half hour?
6. I’m uncertain about the timing,
7. This is my recipe from commercial kitchens where I had the dip hot before it went into the oven.
8. Serve warm with baguette slices, tortilla chips, crackers, etc.