Guidelines for Cooking Artichokes:
Presenting a collective outline on cooking artichokes is the purpose of this section, since there are so many terrific recipe ideas readily found in cookbooks and also available on plenty of internet web sites. Estimated cooking times shown are dependent upon type of stove or oven, altitude at your location, dimensions of cooking appliances, the cut, size and age of artichokes, plus amount of water, cooking oil, or other ingredients used. Methods profiled below assume artichokes have already been thoroughly cleaned and are ready for cooking. Keep in mind that all procedures involving water can benefit from adding lemon, which helps to reduce oxidation of artichokes.
Steam: Find a pot large enough to accommodate both the amount of artichokes to be cooked as well as the size of your steamer rack. Fill pot with enough water to reach just below the bottom of the steamer basket. On your stove top, bring water to a boil using high heat. Now you may add lemon, salt and any other flavoring agents to the boiling water. Arrange artichokes onto steamer rack upside down, then carefully lower steamer basket into pot of boiling water. Another way of doing this is to put artichokes and steamer rack into the pot first, add additional ingredients to water, then bring to a boil. Either way, once water is boiling, keep heat on medium to medium-high. Water should continue boiling, but not be at a thunderous rolling boil. Estimated steaming times are anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes. Remove by means of serving tongs and set artichokes upside down to drain and cool, prior to handling.
Boil: Fill a large pot half full with water, a dash of salt and any other seasonings of your choice, and bring to a boil. Add cleaned artichokes to boiling water. Since artichokes will float, try placing a smaller cover or a heavy plate directly on top of them to keep submerged, then cover the cooking pot using its original lid. Once water resumes boiling, reduce heat and simmer for anywhere between 20 to 45 minutes. Boiling duration for baby artichokes is roughly half the time. Alternate ways to tell if your artichoke is close to being fully cooked: When a sharp knife easily goes through the base, or if you can freely pull out a large petal, your artichoke is done. Remove from water and set upside down on a rack or inside of a colander, for drainage and cooling off before serving.
Bake: Many recipes call for wrapping your artichoke in aluminum foil, but this writer is not in favor of that method. Instead, consider parchment paper as a way of creating steam pockets for keeping artichokes moist during the baking process. Parchment paper is generally safe up to 450º F, but be sure to check the label, and your recipe, before selecting this option. After wrapping artichokes, put them on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Estimated oven temperatures span from 375 degrees to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Approximate cooking times are in the range of 40 to 90 minutes.
Sauté: Whether or not you will use a cooking oil or butter as part of the dipping sauce for your artichokes determines how much to use, but at a minimum the sauce pan should be evenly covered. After inedible choke has been removed, lay vertically sliced artichoke halves cut side down into a pre-heated skillet and increase to medium-high heat. Continue stirring and cooking, until artichokes are lightly browned. An alternative for baby artichokes is to thinly slice them through the use of a mandolin. Pre-packaged or raw artichoke hearts can be sautéed whole, or chopped into smaller pieces. Estimated artichoke sauté cooking time is anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, determined by the exact recipe used.
Barbeque or Grill: The purpose of barbequing or grilling an artichoke is to add another layer of flavor and texture. Recipes in this category usually recommend boiling or steaming artichokes ahead of time. Some include an additional step of marinating artichokes anywhere from several hours to as long as twenty-four hours. In this segment, we’ll only touch upon the actual task of the grilling itself. To barbeque or grill an artichoke, use one that is pre-cooked and has been cut into halves or quarters. Brush on your favorite cooking oil and seasonings, then organize on the grill cut side down. Actual barbeque time is roughly 5 to 8 minutes, including turning for even heating, or until you see grill marks. To bypass pre-cooking and totally prepare an artichoke on the barbeque or grill, cut in half or quarters and remove choke. Apply additional cooking oil and seasoning, then grill for up to 30 minutes, or until petals pull out easily.
Fry: Opinions differ on the preferred procedure to fry an artichoke. Some are in favor of frying them twice; the first fry at a lower temperature to cook them through, then a second fry in hotter oil to coax them into spreading open and becoming crisp. Another approach is to fry artichokes only once for a shorter span of time, at a higher heat level. Whichever path you choose, each practice begins in the same manner. Be certain after cleaning that artichokes have been shaken off, wiped down and are absent of excess water before placing into hot oil for frying. Select a deep pot safe for this type of project and pour up to 2″ of cooking oil into it. Single Frying: On stove top, use medium-high heat and bring oil to temperature of 350º to 375º Fahrenheit. Getting some help from culinary pincers, safely position artichokes into pot and cook for 2 to 5 minutes. Remove promptly, drain upside down and serve hot once surplus oil has been drawn off. Double Frying: Heat oil with medium stove top setting, to a temperature of 220º to 250º F. Applying the use of kitchen tongs, deposit artichokes into pot and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. Next, artichokes are removed from the frying pot and drained on paper towels until cool. While artichokes are resting, use medium-high heat and bring oil to a higher temperature of 350º to 375º F. Situate artichokes back into cooking oil and fry a second time for under 60 seconds. Remove from fryer, put upside down on paper towels to remove any leftover oil and serve hot.
Braise: Due to this method encompassing such a wide fluctuation in cooking time, it is best to merely describe the process and allow individual recipes to determine the timing factor. Braising commonly uses full sized artichokes halved with chokes removed, baby artichokes cleaned and halved, or just the savory hearts. Begin braising an artichoke by putting one into a skillet, cut side down, and sear at a high temperature, then transfer into a covered pot and simmer for a much longer period of time in a modest amount of cooking liquid.
Broil or Roast: Considering these are both dry heat methods of cooking and artichokes have a far better flavor when retaining moisture, broiling and roasting are not necessarily the best approach for preparing artichokes. An exception might be recipes containing cheeses, or other ingredients to seal in steam while cooking.
Microwave: Using a microwave-proof dish, add about one-half inch of liquid. This can be a combination of water and cooking oil, or just water by itself, accompanied by your favorite seasonings. Be sure to set halved artichokes cut side down and cover with a tight fitting microwave-proof lid. For cooking in a microwave, an alternate technique is to wrap artichoke halves in wet paper towels and wax or parchment paper. Estimated microwave cooking times differ greatly, ranging anywhere from 4 minutes to as much as 20 minutes. This wide variation is due in part to how many artichokes are being cooked, plus power of individual microwaves on high setting. Be sure to allow time for cooling and testing for doneness throughout the process.
Pressure Cooker: Since pressure cookers are available in both stove-top and electric models, offering different sizes and preparation options, each can be set to cook at a somewhat different rate. Results are best when referring to the manual that came with your appliance, or the recipe you are following, for specific instructions. The basics on cooking artichokes in this manner is to lower a steaming basket or trivet into the bottom of the pot, add one to two cups of water (depending upon size of pressure cooker), and bring to a boil. Now move halved artichokes into pot cut side down, lock the lid and bring to high pressure using high heat. Reduce heat enough to maintain high pressure and continue cooking. If cooking with an electric pressure cooker, please use appropriate settings for your machine. At this point, pressure cooker variations reveal estimated cooking time anywhere from 6 to 22 minutes. When employing the quick-release method, carefully open lid away from yourself, to avoid getting scalded. Remove artichokes via kitchen pincers and set out to cool, before serving.
Slow-Cooker or Crock-Pot Style Cooker: Both devices cook our food by utilizing electricity and moist heat. The primary difference is slow cookers tend to have a heat source from the bottom, whereas Crock Pot style cookers have a heating element surrounding the ceramic crock. Crock Pot style cookers often have only two or three heat settings, yet slow cookers typically have as many as five heat settings. In general, put 2 to 3 inches of water into your slow cooker, add seasonings and a little cooking oil if you like, then place whole or cut artichokes inside and cover with sealed lid. Depending upon which appliance you have and the settings chosen, approximate cooking time can range anywhere from 2 to 10 hours. Finding a good recipe, or referencing the instructions of your specific cooker, should help in scheduling the perfect artichoke meal.
Artichokes are quite versatile when it comes to preparation. With so many possible cooking methods, it should be easy to find the right one to fit into your meal planning. Please share your experience of cooking artichokes, by leaving a post below.