All about Artichokes
Microwaving Your Artichokes
Yep-fresh artichokes can be micro-waved (and with elegant results, too).
First, wash them thoroughly under cool running water, making sure that the water flows through each of the leaves.
Then cut off stem flush with the bottom of the artichoke, and slice off the top third of artichoke (at this time it's a good idea to peel away the smallest outer leaves, too).
When they are fully prepped, place them trimmed side down on a couple of sheets of paper towels.
Now put a few ounces of seasonings (a few tablespoons of freshly minced garlic, a teaspoon or two of Frank Davis Sprinkling Spice, a touch of fresh-ground black pepper, a pinch or two of dill, a hearty squeeze of lemon, and a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil) in a Tupperware type bowl.
Stir everything together until fully blended.
All that's left to do is to place the artichoke face-down in the bowl and cover the container with the lid (leave only one slight crack in the seal to allow the excess moisture to vent).
Now cook the artichoke for 7 minutes on HIGH, turning the container every few minutes (if your oven doesn't have a carousel).
When the cooking time as lapsed, remove the artichoke from the microwave; but leave the cover on the container and let the artichoke stand for an additional 5 minutes.
Chef's Note: When you're ready to eat, pull off the leaves and dip them in an olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese mixture that you make to taste.
Pot-Cooking Your Artichokes
One of the easiest ways to prepare artichokes is to take a heavy non-reactive boiling pot and add to it approximately 1-1/2 cups water (you could use either chicken stock or vegetable stock if you wanted to).
Now season the "pot liquor" with kosher salt and black pepper to taste, a hearty splash of extra virgin olive oil, a small handful of some herbs (fresh dill and fresh basil are good), and a touch of cayenne pepper.
Now trim the chokes. You do this by cutting off the stem flush with the bottom of the bulb and slicing off the thistle end (about down from the top).
At this point, take time to stick slivers of fresh garlic between most of the leaves.
At this point, with the pot liquor boiling, place the artichokes into the water, cover the pot tightly with the lid, reduce heat to simmer, and steam the 'chokes for 30-40 minutes, depending upon their size.
Remember that they are done when the leaves pull away from the globe easily.
When they're done, drain them and cool them slightly. Pot-boiled artichokes can be eaten immediately or eaten later from the fridge. I personally like to dip the leaves in a drawn butter and lemon sauce (1 stick melted butter plus the juice of one lemon).
Chef's Note: Do not cook artichokes in aluminum or cast iron cookware. These metals will discolor the chokes.
Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes (The ultimate favorite!)
3 large artichokes
12 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
4 large minced garlic cloves
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
First, cut the stems and the tops off the artichokes.
Now, in a large stainless steel bowl, mix together the cheese, the garlic, the bread crumbs, and the black pepper.
Then place the artichoke down into the bowl of breading, spread the artichoke leaves with your thumbs, and stuff each layer of leaves-from the outside in-with the mixture.
At this point, place the artichokes in a non-reactive pot with about 2 inches of water in the bottom.
Then drizzle the remaining olive oil and all of the lemon juice equally over the tops of the 'chokes.
All that's left is to cover the pot, set the fire on simmer, and steam the artichokes for about 45 minutes or so, checking occasionally that the water has not completely evaporated.
The 'chokes are done when the leaves can be pulled off easily.
Chef's Gourmet Note: To make a richer bread stuffing, pour just enough of the olive oil into the bread crumb mixture in the bowl to give it a slightly moist, crumbly consistency. Use this mixture to fill the leaf spaces!
Mary Clare's Baked Artichokes with Garlic and Sausage
If you'd like one of the easiest, no hassle methods of fixin' artichokes (that you don't have to keep monitoring minute to minute), you'll like this one Mary Clare fixes for me as a special snackin' treat! I'm guessing this could be your favorite way to eat these bad boys! You'll need. . .
4 medium to large globe artichokes, trimmed
1 fresh lemon
8 largecloves garlic, minced
cup extra virgin olive oil
cup grated Romano cheese
2 tsp. Frank Davis Vegetable Seasoning
lb. bulk Italian or N'Awlins hot sausage
cup chicken stock
cup dry white wine
First off, prep your artichokes.
Then before you begin cooking, take a melon baller and scoop out the thistle-like center of each 'choke (along with the inedible purple tinged leaves).
Follow this procedure by thoroughly rubbing down the cut portions of the artichoke with the lemon to keep the 'choke from turning colors.
Oh, yeah-and in the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Next, mix together the garlic and the olive oil. Then meticulously fold in all of the Romano cheese and the vegetable seasoning.
When the mixture is fully blended, spread the artichoke leaves apart and-with a teaspoon-put a little of the mixture in between the leaves of each artichoke (as well as in the scooped out center).
When the 'chokes are filled, roll a wad of sausage about the size of a golf ball between your palms until it is perfectly rounded.
Then pack it tightly into the hollowed out center of the artichoke (it is okay to overstuff the artichoke center slightly).
All that's left to do at this point is to put the artichokes into a baking dish, pour the chicken broth and the wine in the bottom, cover the dish securely with aluminum foil, and bake the artichokes for approximately one hour (or until the leaves can be pulled off the chokes easily).
These you can serve warm or at room temperature.
Chef's Note: Use only a good dry white wine when cooking artichokes. Artichokes have the tendency to make wine taste sweeter, so a naturally sweet wine would not be very compatible with the characteristics of the artichoke.
N'Awlins Artichoke Appetizer Dip (This is lagniappe, y'all!)
1 cup Blue Plate Mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Dash Worcestershire Sauce
Garlic salt to taste
Very simply, mix all the ingredients together. Then chill briefly and serve as an all-around artichoke dip.