A lot of foods eluded me when I was growing up because my mother didn’t like them (or had never had them) such as mushrooms, garlic (gasp!), asparagus, and artichokes. I’m not even sure how old I was when I had my first fresh artichoke, but once I learned how to properly trim and steam them, it has become one of my favorites. The preparation is not unlike that of preparing a chicken for roasting…….and once it’s in the pan, it takes care of the cooking itself. I like foods like that. 😉 The following is a step-by-step tutorial to get your artichokes cleaned and ready for the steamer:
1. Cut a lemon in half and rinse your artichokes. The lemon juice will keep the exposed, cut edges of the artichokes from oxidizing, or turning brown. If you are trimming several artichokes, dropping the trimmed artichokes in a bowl of water and lemon juice works great but I find just rubbing a lemon half over the cut areas works just fine.
2. Using a serrated knife, slice off the top 1/3 of the artichoke and discard. For the stem, you may either cut it off entirely so that the artichoke stands erect (makes a nice presentation) or you may cut just a part off. If you are leaving some stem, use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to trim the outer layer of the stem off. Next, pull off some of the smaller leaves in the stem area.
3. Using a pair of scissors, cut the thorny tips off the leaves so that you have a nice flat edge on each leaf. 4. Ready for the pot!
5. Fill a large pot half way with water and insert your steamer. Nestle the artichokes in one layer, add two halved or quartered lemons and sprinkle with kosher salt and coarse ground pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 40 minutes or until one of the leaves comes off easily from the artichoke. Not too bad, right? To eat an artichoke, make sure you have a delectable sauce (melted butter, a vinaigrette, etc.) and remove each leaf, dip, and scrape the meaty part off the leaf with your teeth. Discard the leaves. When you get to the heart of the artichoke which is at the base, remove the hairy choke with a spoon and slice the heart, dip, and enjoy. That’s the best part.
- whole artichokes (1 per person) (I used two very large ones)
- 1-2 lemons, halved
- 2 Meyer lemons, one zested to equal 1 teaspoon of zest and both juiced to equal ¼ cup
- 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
- 1 tablespoon finely diced shallots
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- dash cayenne pepper
- Rinse the artichokes, cut off the top 1/3 of each with a serrated knife and trim the stem flush with the base of the artichoke. (You can leave part of the stem on if you wish.) Rub cut areas with a lemon half. With scissors, cut the thorny tips of each leaf off.
- Place the artichokes in one layer in a steamer basket, add lemon halves, salt, and pepper. Fill a large pot halfway with water (just below the bottom of the steamer basket) and insert the steamer basket. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium to medium-low and cook (covered) for 40 minutes. Artichokes will be done when a leaf can be removed easily from the artichoke.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the Meyer lemon zest and juice and the shallots and stir together for a minute. Add the wine and finish with a dash of cayenne pepper.
- Pour the sauce into one or several smaller serving bowls and serve along with the artichokes.
Serves: One artichoke per person