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How to Cook and Eat Artichokes

23 Jan

I know a lot of people are very intimidated by cooking artichokes.  They were always something my parents cooked a lot, and I remember asking my mom to make them for me pretty frequently when I was younger.  Consequently, I’ve never been afraid to cook them and find artichokes to be a really easy, fun, and delicious appetizer, side dish, snack, or light meal.  While excellent with melted butter, softened and flavored butter, or flavored mayonnaise, we like to eat them with plain Greek yogurt instead, since it is much healthier and very, very tasty.  Today we topped the hearts with Brie and broiled them for 5 minutes for some extra gooey goodness.  I’m definitely going to be doing it again – it was both elegant and delicious.

How to Cook and Eat Artichokes

(Artichoke Hearts with Brie)

2 medium artichokes

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 .67 oz. wedge of Brie

Freshly cracked black pepper

Bring 1-2″ of water to a boil in a medium stock pot.  Add a steaming basket. [Note: You can also use stock or add aromatics such as lemons, garlic, or herbs to the boiling water – some people swear by it.  I feel as though it makes little difference, as artichokes have a very strong natural flavor.]

Meanwhile, use a pair of scissors to cut off the pointy edges of the outside leaves of the artichoke.  This is mostly for aesthetics, so if you’re feeling lazy you can skip it.  Pull off any scraggly or discolored leaves.  [See below.]

Use a knife to cut off the top 1/2″-3/4″ inch of the artichoke.  [See below.]

Cut the woody part of the artichoke stem, leaving about an inch.  Rinse off the artichokes. [See below.]

Add the artichokes, stem up, to the steaming basket and cover. [See below.]

Steam 25-45 minutes or until the outer leaves are easily pulled off and the tip of a knife can be easily inserted into the base of the artichoke.  Cooking time varies based on size and density, so be sure to check for doneness early and often.

Drain the artichokes and let cool slightly.  Serve in a bowl with an extra large bowl for leaves.  Eat by removing the leaves one and a time, dipping the base of the leaf in your sauce, and scraping against your bottom teeth.  Eat all of the outer leaves.

Remove any extra-soft or very small leaves in the center. [See below.]

Using a spoon or a fork, scrape off the inedible fuzzy choke of the artichoke that covers the artichoke heart.  This is done easiest by placing your spoon or fork along the “seam” toward the edges of the heart as deeply as possible and “popping” off the furry fibers.   If necessary, rinse away any remaining fine “hairs.”  What is remaining is the heart.  [See below.]

Cut it into pieces and enjoy with some sauce.  Alternatively, take a small wedge of Brie and spread on the heart.  Preheat broiler and broil 5-6 minutes until melted and golden brown.  Season with freshly cracked black pepper. [See below.]

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