Artichokes: Just Boil Them

March 31, 2015 | By | COMMENTS

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Ugh, artichokes. At some point, I espoused my philosophy–”Artichokes: Not Worth It”–and then slightly changed my tune when I stuffed them with breadcrumbs and cheese and baked them. That was in 2013. Now it’s 2015, and here I am in the kitchen with four artichokes that I bought at the West Hollywood Farmer’s market (sadly my CSA is taking a break) and I’m acting all cocky, like: “I can tackle these, no problem.” The goal is to trim them down so I can slice them and fry them in olive oil. I don’t know where I go wrong, but before I know it, my cutting board looks like this….

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It’s funny to be posting that image right now, because I started my day reading this diatribe about me on a forum called Mouthfuls: “If you asked me to describe Roberts in one word I’d pick ‘ignoramus’. I confess to hate-reading him and I am continually gobsmacked by his stunning lack of knowledge: of technique, of culinary history, of culture. He is shockingly incurious. And he is years into his gig– one would think something might have stuck along the way, but no, he continues in his cheerful blindness. He appears to have chutzpah in aces and that I assume has served him very well. It also irks me that he bills his blog as a ‘funny food blog’ because he is so Not Funny.”

Well good morning to you too, Daisy!

And here I am proving you right with another artichoke disaster. But this time, my folly led me to an artichoke revelation. The best thing to do with them? Slice the tops off and then plop them into boiling water with some squeezed lemon halves in there and simmer for 30 minutes or so until a knife goes through the base easily. (If the leaves are pointy, you can make them flat with a pair of kitchen shears.)

The reason this is the best thing to do with an artichoke has nothing to do with the artichoke itself and everything to do with what you do while the artichoke is simmering: take an egg yolk and put into a bowl. Get a fat garlic clove and grate it into the yolk. Squeeze some lemon juice in there and start whisking with a pinch of salt. Now slowly drizzle in olive oil as you keep whisking until you have a thick, aioli-like substance.

When your artichokes are boiled, take them out and let them cool for a few minutes and then serve them alongside your garlic aioli:

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As artichoke-lovers know, the pleasure here is all about tearing off those leaves and using them as vehicles for that garlicky aioli you made. So do just that: pull off a leaf and scoop up lots of aioli. Drag the base across your teeth and pretend you’re doing it for that delightful artichoke flavor, but really we all know why you’re really doing it. (And the nice thing is, when you’re done with all of the leaves, it’s really easy to get down to the heart now that it’s boiled–just cut out the choke and there you are.)

And so a great secret is revealed. The next time you’re struggling over an artichoke, just boil some water and spend your time whisking instead of trimming. This is an artichoke experience worth having.

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Categories: Food Bits

  • Lisa Solak

    I love this post. Simplicity at it’s best! I also LOVE the hula bowl.

  • jr

    so did you really say greek potters was tens of thousands of years old?
    I also thought your ras-el-hanout comment strained credulity for a food writer of many years experience…

  • http://deliciousnotgorgeous.blogspot.com/ Heather

    Definitely agree! I love serving boiled artichokes with a mix of soy + garlic + mayo.

  • Feeley Vee

    I think the whole point of your blog is that it’s called the amateur gourmet, not “daniel boulud’s food blog” — the charm of your blog is your humor and lack of pretension and ego. Screw the haters

  • Angela Sinclair Larkin

    Yikes! People are crazy. Who has time to go post spiteful things on online forums? Adam, I’ve been reading your blog for years (and have seen your cooking grow and change a lot, but you can’t debate an irrational person so we’ll let that go) because I enjoy your writing voice, your humor, your friendliness and authenticity. I LIKE that not everything you do is perfect and you don’t do a staged photoshoot with your recipes. Anyway, I don’t usually comment but wanted to let you know that people like your writing, because I’m sure it sucks to read the other side and those people tend to be more vocal. Also, artichokes are awesome. I make them like this too.

  • Jessica

    Don’t read the haters.

  • Agent Strong

    Pressure cooker. 10 minutes.

  • Ellen @ CheapCooking.com

    This is how I grew up eating artichokes except we used mayonnaise and lemon juice as the dip. Also, I always rub the cut parts with half a lemon before putting them in the water with the rest of the lemon. Oh and I add a peeled clove of garlic to the water. Subtle but good. I usually cook them ahead and keep them in the fridge until serving.

  • Carrie

    Gobsmacked Daisy should get a life! What a loser!

  • Kate Juergens

    Hey Adam, I’ve been reading your blog since you posted that incredible broccoli recipe in 2008, and I just wanted to let you know it’s brought me many joyful hours of reading and cooking. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Roasting is just as easy and even more delicious!

  • Betsy Murgatroyd

    I’ve recently rediscovered your blog and can’t remember why I stopped reading.
    I also cook artichokes like this or I microsteam them.
    Dudes a troll. Don’t feed the troll.

  • Topper

    Hi Daisy! C U Next Tuesday! :)

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com Stacey Snacks

    I am artichoke challenged. Let someone else do it. I do love them!

  • http://theleftoversproject.com/ Megan and Joe

    Artichokes are one of our favorite vegetables ever! We always steam them and dip them in melted butter. You don’t even have to cut off the tops. Yum yum!

  • http://www.orderinthekitchen.com Lynn at Order in the Kitchen

    This is my favorite way to make artichokes for basically the same reason…that you can do anything else while they are cooking and you don’t have to worry about them. Perfect!

  • Nancy

    I wish I was as perfect and as knowledgeable as Daisy.

  • Lyn Never

    I’m totally with you, except it’s melted butter with lots of salt, a dash of sherry vinegar and lemon, and either fine-grated parmesan cheese or a little mashed feta.

  • Jennifer

    Oh, wow. That was mean! You ARE funny. So funny! I am always linking your recipes to my friends and sister. And we all loved the story about your cat.

  • Genevieve Moore

    Logged in to say that artichokes are about the only reason my parents got out the pressure cooker.

  • Genevieve Moore

    Logged in to say that artichokes are about the only reason my parents got out the pressure cooker.

  • Genevieve Moore

    Logged in to say that artichokes are about the only reason my parents got out the pressure cooker.

  • Genevieve Moore

    Logged in to say that artichokes are about the only reason my parents got out the pressure cooker.

  • http://www.nutsaboutfooditaly.blogspot.com Nuts about food

    I think you’re funny and the fact that you tackle problems in the kitchen like most of us makes me comfortable and enjoy coming back to read you all the time. I am personally tired of super chefs/food bloggers and their perfect recipes and lives.

  • Maria

    Yep, this is the only way I do artichokes: with a lemon half in the pressure cooker, though. Must try your aioli, though. And wow, people on the Internet–sigh.

  • Erin B.

    YES!! This is my favorite method (although I do cut off the tops). Reminds me of my childhood.

  • Ee

    Even when someone confidently knows what they’re doing trimming artichokes, they leave a lot behind. Think of how much is left behind after you dip a leave in the aioli and eat. I don’t think what’s in that photo is the disaster you may have felt it was.

  • KimberlyDi

    Oh, to be famous enough to have a “hate-reader” which only highlights how small that person is… Really, why would you read something you hate? I love all your culinary adventures!

  • Agent Strong

    It’s my life-saver. It saves so much time. I can make a terrific beef stew in 30 minutes, lentils in 5, chicken in 10. We have fresh, home-cooked meals every night of the week thanks to my pressure cookers.

  • RileyWalker

    Me too! I bought a pressure cooker specifically to make artichokes. I’m in Colorado and I do 11 minutes exactly once the real noise starts, unless the artichokes are tiny and then I only do 10 minutes. Perfect every time, and perfect with mayo – mom used Best Foods so that’s what I use too, but I bet Adam’s homemade aioli would be even better. Mom sprinkled them with garlic salt and pepper before steaming in the pressure cooker. Put in just enough water to cover the little rack in the bottom, plus a bit more. Yum, we’re making me hungry!

  • michele

    I just asked my friend if his mother in law still makes stuffed artichokes, YES she does and I plan to go watch her make them next time. It’s really the only way I can learn. Both of my grandmothers made these often, but I was too dumb to stand in the kitchen and watch them. And they are no longer with us, so some kitchen regrets are with me. Luckily I have friends that grew up on the same food my siblings and I did and every chance I get, I’m watching in the kitchen!

  • Karen

    I just put my in a glass container with a half inch of water and microwave them. I start at 6 minutes and go from there, but this sounds tasty. I love them stuffed but that’s such a pain. Mouthful dudes an idiot.

  • Ttrockwood

    Well living so close to so many amazing artichokes its criminal not to eat them more often! I grew up in CA and never saw anything more complicated than steamed whole and served with mayo or fancy aioli- never trimmed or prepped or any silly time consuming how do you eat it stuffed artichokes.
    Almost even better cooked and chilled then eaten cold in the summer.

  • Shannon

    I’m born and raised in CA and have always boggled at how people from the east coast can overcomplicate a simple artichoke! Glad to see you finally figured it out :) And I know you don’t need any more reassurance, but that commenter had no idea what they were talking about.

  • Deborah Frazier Juckett

    Daisy sounds like a pompous, self loving, ass………and I love boiled artichokes.

  • Deborah Frazier Juckett

    Daisy needs to get a life….I love boiled artichokes.

  • Adeel Afzal

    That’s Amazing :)

  • Nora Carrington

    Artichokes are best with just this simplicity, but don’t *boil* them, *steam* them. That’s what those cheap folding steamer inserts were made for! The trick is to not let the pot boil dry, as they take 40-50 minutes to cook this way, unless they are quite small (TJ’s are often small enough to get away with 30 min). If they’re immersed in water the leaves and the spaces in between tend to hold enough water that the saucy-goodness you’ve got waiting for them can get diluted too much. I’m a fan of vinaigrette rather than hollandaise, but a well cooked artichoke with a well prepared dipping sauce is one of the pleasures of spring.

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  • sayquote

    i saw this fruit for the first time o.O

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