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Boiled (or Steamed) Artichokes

April 21, 2011

One of the signs of spring is seeing large artichokes in the market! Some people may be intimidated by them, but they are actually very easy to prepare.

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Boiled artichoke with Mustard Sauce



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For years I have steamed artichokes because it seems that steaming is the method preferred by many chefs today. However, I recently read James Beard’s take on artichokes in his classic cookbook, American Cookery. Beard says, “Advocates of this method [steaming] say the vegetables taste better, but I am not convinced of this.”

So, in the interest of science, I recently tried both methods.

About a week ago I steamed a large artichoke. Kalyn, of Kalyn’s Kitchen recommends removing the choke before steaming, so I decided to try this. It worked pretty well, although the artichoke discolored fairly quickly where the choke had been removed. I peeled the long stem and also steamed it. The artichoke was very good served with some melted butter. The stem was also delicious. (Kalyn’s recipe also gives directions for pressure cooking artichokes. Be sure to check it out if you have a pressure cooker.)

Artichoke with choke removed, ready to be steamed


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Steaming the artichoke 



First I cut off the top of the artichoke.

 Steamed artichoke served with melted butter


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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday, I decided to try boiling an artichoke, and I prepared it in the more traditional way.

First I cut off the top of the artichoke.

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I trimmed the leaves with scissors. Then I cut the long stem off and peeled it.

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Ready to boil


While doing all of this trimming, I had a large pot of water coming to a boil. When it was boiling, I added some vinegar and a bit of oil (as suggested in Sunset Fresh Produce). I added the artichoke and the stem and boiled for 45 minutes.

After boiling, I let the artichoke drain, upside down, for a few minutes.

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Artichokes are often served whole – one per person. It makes a great presentation, but then each diner has to deal with cutting out the choke when they get to it. That’s not really a big deal, but it is a bit messy at the table.

This artichoke was large enough to serve two, so I cut it in half and removed the choke just before serving. It makes it much easier to eat at the table. The choke is easily removed with a spoon.


Choke still in the half on the right; it’s removed from the half on the left


The stem of this artichoke was fibrous and inedible except for the very interior. I don’t think the difference was the cooking method; I think the second artichoke may have been a bit older.

So which method did I prefer? I actually found the boiled artichoke to be perhaps a bit tastier and a bit more tender. Maybe the vinegar and oil in the boiling water made a difference. It’s certainly an easier method for people who don’t have a large steaming pot. In the end, though, either method works.

Boiled (or Steamed) Artichokes

(Adapted from ideas in James Beard’s American Cookery, Kalynskitchen.com, and Sunset Fresh Produce)

(print the recipe)

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Allow ½ – 1 artichoke per person.

¼ cup vinegar

2 tablespoons oil

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For serving:

Melted butter

And/or

Mustard Sauce – For 2 servings, combine 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and ½ teaspoon vinegar.

 

1. Bring a large part of water to a boil. Add the vinegar and oil.

2. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the artichoke(s). Cut the stem from the bottom of the artichoke so it will sit flat. Peel the stem.

3. Cut the top from the artichoke.

4. Trim the leaves with scissors.

5. When the water is boiling, add the prepared artichoke and stem. Boil for 45 minutes.

(Alternatively, steam the artichoke over boiling water for 45 minutes.)

6. Drain the artichoke, upside down, for a few minutes.

7. If desired, cut the artichoke in half and remove the choke.

8. Serve the artichoke and stem with melted butter or mustard sauce for dipping.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    April 21, 2011 3:37 pm

    What BEAUTIFUL photos! I’ve always thought artichokes were very pretty :)

    I haven’t eaten artichokes in forever, and have never tried making them…maybe this is the spring!

    • April 21, 2011 3:57 pm

      Thanks, Laura!

      (And if you serve them with a steak, maybe Byron will like them! ;) )

  2. April 21, 2011 4:40 pm

    Kath,
    The artichoke is my favorite vegetable. I prepare them just as you do, boiling them and serving them whole. I’ll have to try taking the choke out before serving. I serve them with a vinaigrette dressing, but the butter and mustard sauce sound great, too.

    I have heard people say they don’t know what to do with an artichoke. Your fantastic photos make it completely clear how to prepare and serve them.

    • April 21, 2011 4:50 pm

      A vinaigrette dressing is great with artichokes, too …. I’d forgotten about using that, but I’ve enjoyed it in the past. Thanks for your comment, Phyllis!

  3. April 22, 2011 12:48 pm

    Interesting comparison, Kath. You totally demystify the process of preparing artichokes.

  4. April 22, 2011 8:01 pm

    Yeah, I’m one of those people that shy away from artichokes because I’ve never known what to do with them. This is a great post, and I love when people include pictures!! If I ever get brave enough to tackle the artichoke, I will definitely be referring to your blog!

  5. April 23, 2011 2:33 pm

    i am one of those people who is intimidated by artichokes…i have never bought it or made it into a recipe. but, i appreciate this post…it has encouraged me to at least buy it next time i go to the market :)

  6. April 23, 2011 2:35 pm

    I’ve never had artichoke in my life, but now you tempt me to try…! My MIL loves artichokes, I’ll pass on this recipe to her too, I am sure she’ll be happy!

  7. April 23, 2011 2:42 pm

    Popping over from Kate’s Kitchen…and what do I see, but gorgeous photos of artichokes! I grew up eating them, but the family is way too picky to have these on our menu. But I’m going to buy some this week…they can sample, and I will be happy to eat what they don’t. Win-win situation for me. And I may have to make your delicious sounding mustard sauce :)

    • April 27, 2011 3:25 pm

      So funny, Liz! I’ve been known to cook an artichoke just for myself for lunch! ;)

  8. April 24, 2011 8:01 am

    We adore artichokes! We prepare them in a similar manner and dip them in melted butter. Simple and delicious! Happy Easter!

    • April 27, 2011 3:26 pm

      You can’t beat melted butter for a simple accompaniment for artichokes.

  9. April 25, 2011 12:48 pm

    What a gorgeous post. Your photos are always lovely, but you’ve outdone yourself today. I love the way you’ve prepared the artichokes and will have to try your method soon. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

    • April 27, 2011 3:27 pm

      Thank you so much, Mary. Your complement on my photos means a lot to me. :)

  10. April 26, 2011 8:46 pm

    wonderfully detailed post I really must try making them some time

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