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Ask Chef Walter: Cooking artichokes – Chef Walter Potenza

Friends:

David L. from Staunton, Virginia, asked about artichoke cooking methods. 

Here we go, David!

Cooking artichokes can intimidate some people, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the vegetable or have never prepared it. Artichokes have a unique appearance and can seem daunting due to their prickly exterior and the need to remove tough outer leaves and the choke (inedible fuzzy part) before cooking.

Artichokes are primarily grown in California. The coastal regions of California, particularly around Monterey County, Castroville, and the Central Coast, have the ideal climate for cultivating artichokes. The rich soil, moderate temperatures, and coastal fog create favorable conditions for artichoke cultivation. 

Castroville, California, is often referred to as the “Artichoke Capital of the World” due to its significant production of this vegetable. Some artichokes are also grown in smaller quantities in other states, such as Arizona and Texas. However, California remains the primary producer of artichokes in the USA.

There are several methods to cook artichokes, each resulting in different flavors and textures.

Here are some standard methods, and I hope I will help demystify the process and make it more accessible to beginners.

  1. Boiling:

To prepare artichokes, remove the tough outer leaves and cut off the top inch. Optionally, trim the remaining leaves’ tips to remove any sharp edges. If you want to cook artichokes, the first step is to boil a large pot of salted water. It would help to use a pot big enough to fit all the artichokes without overcrowding them. 

Before heating the water, trim the ends of the artichoke stems and remove any tough outer leaves. Once the water is boiling, carefully add the artichokes to the pot. Make sure they are fully submerged in the water. The cooking time of artichokes will vary according to their size. Small artichokes may take around 25 minutes to cook, while large ones may take up to 40 minutes.

To check if the artichokes are done, insert a fork or knife into the base of the artichoke. If the utensil goes in smoothly, then the artichokes are adequately cooked. After cooking, use a pair of tongs to remove the artichokes from the pot and let them drain.

Finally, you can serve the artichokes hot with your favorite dipping sauce. Melted butter is a classic option, but you can also try aioli or vinaigrette. To eat the artichokes, pull off the leaves one by one and dip them in the sauce. Once you reach the heart of the artichoke, you can remove the fuzzy choke and enjoy the tender, flavorful heart.

Note: if you clean and prep the artichokes ahead of time, immerse them in acidulated cold water. (Lemon juice or vinegar).

  1. Steaming:

To prepare the artichokes, follow the steps given below:

1. Remove the outer leaves and cut off the top part of the artichokes.

2. Place a steamer basket in a pot filled with water, ensuring the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the basket.

3. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

4. Put the artichokes in the steamer basket, cover it, and steam until they become tender, which may take about 25-40 minutes.

5. Finally, serve with your choice of dipping sauce.

  1. Grilling:

Trim the artichokes as described above.

To prepare the artichokes, cut them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the fuzzy center (the choke). Next, brush the artichoke halves with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. To prepare grilled artichokes:

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. (Make sure it is clean)
  2. Place the artichokes cut side down and grill until they are charred and tender. This process should take around 5-7 minutes per side.
  3. After cooking, serve the artichokes with a splash of fresh lemon juice, a dash of sea salt, and a drizzle of your favorite extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Roasting:

Preheat your oven ahead of time to 425°F (220°C) for the roasting method. Trim, clean, and prepare the artichokes as described in the recipe. Next, coat the artichokes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange the artichokes in a single layer on a roasting pan or baking sheet. (Optional use of parchment paper). Roast them in the oven for 25-30 minutes until tender and slightly browned. Once ready, you can serve the roasted artichokes hot or at room temperature. 

  1. Pressure Cooking:

Prepare the artichokes, trim them, and clean them as described in the recipe. Then, place a steamer basket in the bottom of the pressure cooker and add water per the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, put the artichokes in the steamer basket, close the lid, and cook them at high pressure for 10-15 minutes. Once done, allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the lid. 

Finally, serve the artichokes with your favorite dipping sauce.

Experiment with these methods to find your favorite way to cook artichokes!

Roman Style artichokes recipe from our affiliate Giallo Zafferano

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