Monday, November 28, 2011

Steamed Artichokes with Melted Butter

Artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables. Most people balk at cooking them because they look ungainly and think they have to be difficult to prepare. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you can hold a knife and boil water, you have all of the skills necessary to cook an artichoke.

We're coming into the time of year when artichokes are in their prime. They're big and the base of the leaves contains prodigious amounts of the tender meat. The light, mellow flavor of artichokes goes especially well with poultry and seafood. I'm making them this evening to go along with pan seared scallops (

The prep is easy. Cut the stem off as close to the bottom of the artichoke as possible. Then cut the top off, approximately 1 inch down. The top should look like this when you are done:

Then all you need is a steamer basket and a small pot to melt the butter in and you are off to the races. This recipe serves four. Remember to put a bowl or two on the table for people to dispose of their consumed leaves.

4 whole artichokes
2 sticks salted butter*

Directions for Cooking
  1. Bring water to boil in a large steamer basket.
  2. Cut stems off bottom of artichokes and trim 1 inch off the top of the artichoke.
  3. Place artichokes in steamer basket, cover and cook for 45 minutes.
  4. While artichokes are steaming, melt butter in a small pot.
  5. When done cooking, place artichokes upright in 4 small bowls. Divide butter among four, separate small bowls and serve.
Directions for Eating
To eat, pull off a leaf and dip the large end of the leaf in melted butter. Scrape the meat off the tender end of the leaf with your front teeth. When you reach the center cone of purple prickly leaves, remove it. This is the choke that protects the heart. Now, scrape away the thistle fuzz covering the artichoke heart. The heart is the meatiest part of the artichoke. Remove it from the artichoke, dip it in butter and enjoy!

The artichoke heart

*If so desired, add some fresh lemon juice to the melted butter.

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