Julie Kelly's Blog
Steamed artichokes have always been one of my favorite appetizers. Whether served with a little melted butter or lemon mayonnaise, this odd-looking vegetable is a great portal for any flavor. It’s one of those foods that makes you think, “who was the genius that figured out this thistle was edible?”
Not everyone is familiar how to properly eat an artichoke. I served it once before a family dinner and my brother-in-law dutifully pulled off a leaf and popped the whole thing in his mouth. I didn’t realize it until I saw the look on his face as he attempted to chew the tough leaf. After choking a bit, he spit it out. I then demonstrated how to scrape the leaf with your teeth. He never touched it again.
Too bad for him, right? This week’s technique is how to prep an artichoke and get to the bottom for the best part: the heart.
- Set a pot (with a lid) with about 2” of water to boil.
- Trim off the bottom stem so the artichoke sets upright. Remove the last row of leaves closest to the base then use a pair of scissors to trim off the prickly end of each leaf (start at the bottom).
- Cut a lemon in half and rub the ends of each leaf as they oxidize (turn brown) quickly.
- Squeeze some lemon juice into the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Place artichoke(s) in the water and replace lid. Steam until leaves are tender, about 40-45 minutes.
This week’s recipe offers two alternatives: serve with lemon mayo or a yummy filling with pancetta and capers. When eating the steamed version, simply peel away one of the leaves and scrape the flesh with your teeth. Make sure to demonstrate this technique to any inexperienced artichoke-eaters in order to avoid the embarrassing artichoke choke.
Now the best part: the tender heart at the bottom of the artichoke. It’s covered in tiny fuzzy leaves that you’ll need to scrape away to reveal this tasty gem. Divide up into equal parts for your guests or do it when no one is looking, then you can eat the whole thing yourself.