How to Steam an Artichoke

Dec 9, 2011 7:31 pm

Yes, you CAN do something with whole artichokes.

how to steam an artichoke
Photo: Kate Glicksberg
Sweet, earthy steamed artichoke leaves are an appetizer you can (and should) make at home.

You've passed them up many times at the supermarket, simply because you dont know how to steam and artichoke. How is this spiky, weapon-like thing edible? Friends, the way to an artichoke's heart is through its tough, outer shell. Sound familiar? Work through this heartache in the most rational and tasty manner possible — one leaf at a time.

A warm, freshly-steamed artichoke is an appetizer in itself. The sweet, vegetal flavor of the leaves is complemented by many sauces, but the classics are garlic-spiked melted butter and mayo (preferably homemade)

Here's what you'll need to steam an artichoke:

  • An artichoke or two
  • Sharp kitchen shears
  • A vegetable steamer
  • Half a lemon
  • A pot with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil
  • The dipping sauce of your choice
trim the artichokes
Trim the artichokes

Using sharp kitchen shears (because we know you're spatchcocking on a regular basis), snip the pointy tips off each artichoke leaf. Your artichoke is now ready to steam. Easy as pie. 

Prepare the steamer
Prepare the steamer

Place a vegetable steamer in a pot with just enough water to skim the bottom of the metal tray. Squeeze half a lemon in the water if desired, bring to a boil and cover with a lid.

cover with foil if you don't have a lid
If you don't have a lid...

Come on. Nah, I get you, I know plenty of people who "don't do lids." The good news is, you can still steam an artichoke. When the water comes to a boil, tear off a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and, using an oven mitt or dish towel (if you also "don't do oven mitts," like me), press the foil over the pot and form a seal by crimping tightly around the edge. 

Remove from heat
Remove from heat

Steam the artichokes for 30 minutes, then remove them from the pot and transfer to a plate. Microwave a little butter (careful not to let it explode) or create a compound mayo, which decreases your chances of having an explosion while increasing your chances of having a delicious appetizer.

eat those leaves
Eat those leaves

While still warm, eat the artichokes by pulling off individual leaves, dipping them in your sauce of choice and scraping the flesh off the bottom of each leaf with your teeth. You can make this sexy with a little practice.

have some heart
Have some heart

When you've finished all the artichoke leaves, you should have a stem that looks like this. Twist and pull the top off, and discard the soft, furry, slightly spiky and totally inedible part inside (using a small spoon works great). What's underneath is the heart of the artichoke, which is much sweeter and more flavorful than its jarred or canned equivalent. These make an especially delicious artichoke recipe, too.

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