Monday, March 29, 2010

Artichoke Failure and a Belated Recovery

Artichokes are one of my favorite signs of spring. Gorgeously green and purple they called out to me immediately. I had never steamed fresh artichokes on my own and with this dreary weather I thought it was high time I tried.
One of my bff's steamed a pot of artichokes one time back when we lived in a trailer called a "mod" in college and I remember her anxiously pacing back and forth in front of the stove while I was glued to lifetime television for women. (I couldn't be bothered to cook a tremendous amount back then!) Just when I would think they were finished, they would need another 20 minutes, I couldn't believe it! Nothing could be worth that wait, right?

I can't actually remember if she had succeeded in cooking them to her liking... But tonight I certainly did not. Failure is an understatement. Somehow Nick had a miracle choke that tasted great but mine was dry, crispy, unflavorful, and then there was the heart... I will have nightmares for weeks about that heart. Nick said "Oh eat the furry part, it is the best." I looked at mine dubiously and thought, nah, it looks prickly. He urged, and I gave in. People, it WAS prickly. Like eating a cactus! I am pretty sure I'll have these spikes wedged in my throat for a good few weeks.

He looked at mine after seeing my reaction and went, "Ew, it's spikey!"

Yes. It. Is.

That was over the weekend. So we wouldn't be artichoke jaded, he came home tonight with a jar of hearts and we made a lovely little pizza.
This is pre-bake, the fact that I forgot to take a pic after it had fully baked should tell you something about the incredible smell in our house. The artichokes actually baked down substantially and we both wished there were more on there. Next time.

As for steaming... anyone have any good tricks? Unlike my usual fumbles, I actually followed the directions to a T this time.


  1. artichokes like that are a bitch. They take forever to cook . . . like an hour. And the heart is the part that the choke (the fuzzy hairy) attaches to . . . . the heart is delicious, but despite what Nick says the choke is inedible. Your poor mouth.

    The only other hint I have is don't buy them when they are open (means they're old), but yours in the pic look pretty good and tight.

    What's very good is to steam them sort of halfway, and then toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and crushed garlic. The throw them on a roasting pan in the oven on high. The outside leaves will get burned and black and inedible, but the inside then gets nice and soft and garlicky and amazing.

  2. UGH G, where were you?? Oh, but it was the heart, not the choke hehe oops. He wasn't just misadvising... or WAS he?! hah. Your suggestion sounds great. We've agreed to give them one more try, and we'll definitely finish them in the oven. Thanks for the tip!!

  3. oh man, i had an artichoke last weekend myself :) got a good steam going for about 55 min, delicious. best when dipped in a little mayo and butter. yum.

    this is a great tutorial on getting a good steam, plus how to eat, plus how to get the good stuff from the heart: