Monday, June 27, 2011

Steamed Fresh Artichokes

When I eat foods that have a rather foreboding exterior: crabs, artichokes, etc. I often wonder who was the first person to say, "Let's try and eat these!" I wish I was friends with that person, because they probably ate well...or died from eating poison berries somewhere. From the outside, artichokes are prickly, tough, and just downright scary. But if you trim them up and steam them, they will blossom into a delicious vegetable. I'm not going to sugar coat i, thought. The effort-to-reward ratio skews more towards the "effort" side than I normally like for a side dish recipe. These little buggers are kinda a pain to make, but there is an odd satisfaction that I found from making something that I've never made before. They aren't hard to make, per say. They just take some time and effort for something that you can readily buy in a jar at the grocery store. I still loved them - obviously the flavor of the fresh artichokes is unique and I thought they were delicious. Since they are currently in season, you might see them on sale at your grocery store. If so, grab a few and give this recipe a try. Steamed Fresh Artichokes
4 fresh artichokes
1 lemon
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic
water (for boiling)
butter (for dipping)

1. Start out by boiling about 3-4 inches of water in a large pot. Add the garlic, bay, and the lemon (slices into quarters). 2. Trim the artichoke by peeling off the thick outer leaves at the bottom, then using scissors to snip off the sharp ends of the remaining leaves. Then you cut about 1 inch off the top.
3. Since I do not own a steamer, I place a metal colander inside a large pot to steam vegetables. If you do not have a steamer, a metal colander or a strainer, you can set the artichokes right into the 3-4 inches of water. I don't think that will harm them.
4. Keep the water at a low simmer and steam the chokes for about 1 hour, until they are very tender. 5. Peel off the few bottom leaves that are still a bit tough. When you peel off the inner leaves, they will all have a bit of tender, artichoke heart attached to the bottom. To snack on this part, you peel the leaves, dip them in butter, and using your teeth to scrape off the tender artichoke flesh on the end. Don't eat the whole leaf.
6. Once you've peeled off all the leaves, there will be a hairy one left on top. Remove this cone with a spoon and what you have left is the artichoke heart, which will be tender and delicious. You can dip it in butter and eat it or chop it up and put it into a salad or anything else that you like.
Good luck!

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