Basic Steamed Artichoke
How to Make Basic Steamed Artichoke
- When you buy an artichoke, the leaves should be mostly snug to the head, though a few spreading slightly away are just fine. Green is good, but a little browning (see picture #1) is quite acceptable. The stem should be 2 to 3 inches long to prevent spoilage of the choke (center part). The leaves have very sharp little spikes on the tips, so be careful when handling.
- Using that really sharp knife again, slice the artichoke in half along its axis. Squeeze about 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice in each half. (see picture #5) This will both add a lovely flavor and also prevent (or reduce) the browning of the cut leaves. Like potatoes or apples, artichokes tend to turn brown once they've been cut and the citric acid helps stop that. (Some browning has already started in the attached photo. This much won't affect the flavor or texture.)
- Remove one of your halves and place it on a work surface or cutting board. Note the hair-like growth at the center and the tiny red-ish leaves above them. These are not user friendly, but instead are tiny prickers that will make you choke. They need to be removed...so use a spoon or paring knife to dig them out. You want to dig just slightly below the center, as indicated by the dashed line on picture #8.
- Serve with a little dipping sauce of some sort. The standards are drawn butter or simple mayonnaise, but there are literally hundreds of sauces that work. To enjoy them, pull off a leaf, dip the end you pulled off into the sauce, then scrape the meaty portion of the leaf's interior off with your teeth. The outer leaves will have very little meaty portion, but as you work your way further into the plant, the amount of meatiness and its wonderful flavor both increase. When you reach the end and have only the central "heart" remaining, simply cut it into pieces and eat it, too! The heart is the true reward for all the little tastes you got from the leaves!