Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Artichokes Done Quick and Easy

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Pressure cooked artichoke served simply with melted butter
Pressure cooked artichoke served simply with melted butter

I love when artichokes are in season.  For my family eating artichokes is fun and social and always something we all look forward to.  Because artichokes are finger food they are great for kids and it lets us all share dipping bowls with everyone huddled close and just enjoying being together.  The only downside to artichokes in the past for us has been how long it can take for them to steam through on the stove top.  The solution to all of that?  The pressure cooker!

Pressure cooking your artichokes in flavored steam makes sure they are tender all the way through without boiling away nutrition - all in only a matter of minutes.  Really.  It is that fast.

Fresh artichokes
Fresh artichokes

Before cooking though, let me cover a few quick basics.  Always pick artichokes that feel heavy for their size, are firm, with a long stem.  The stem is just as delicious as the heart and should not be overlooked.  Artichokes will keep in the refrigerator for up to a full week, but are best eaten within a few days of getting them.  Store in an airtight bag after rinsing and then leaving on a bit of the water for moisture.  If you want to freeze artichoke, be sure you cook it first then freeze.

Cleaned artichoke with choke removed
Cleaned artichoke with choke removed

Ok, now for the steps to prepare your artichoke to cook.  Peel the stem, trim the discolored end and pull off the lowest leaves.  Carefully cut your artichoke in half lengthwise.  Using a sharp paring knife cut below the choke and then pull it out using the center leaves as leverage.  This seems a bit challenging at first but you will get the hang of it quickly and it makes it far easier for kids to eat later on.  Rinse the cleaned artichoke to remove any little thistle that may still be lingering.

Pressure cooker steamer basket with artichokes stacked tip to stem,  ready to cook
Pressure cooker steamer basket with artichokes stacked tip to stem,
ready to cook

Measure out some water into the bottom of your pressure cooker.  Take advantage of this chance to add to the water some lemon zest, garlic, a splash of white wine, a pinch of salt or whatever flavorings appeal to you.  You can add a lot of flavor at this point so experiment and find what you like best.  Cook following the directions below and you will have perfect artichoke in about 5 minutes.  Artichokes are great warm, room temperature, and cold so they are excellent as a make ahead dish.  We love ours with melted butter that has some freshly squeezed lemon juice or with a yogurt based dip.  Sooo good!

Pressure Cooked Artichokes
Pressure cooking your artichokes lets you enjoy them in just minutes. No waiting 30 - 45 minutes any more!
  • 4 whole artichokes
  • 2 cups water
  • from one lemon, optional lemon zest
  • 1, optional garlic clove, sliced
  • splash, optional white wine
  • pinch, optional salt

  1. Prepare your pressure cooker by adding in 2 cups of water and then any flavorings you would like. My family really enjoys garlic, lemon zest and a bit of white wine.
  2. Clean and prepare your artichokes. Trim off the discolored end , then peel the stem and remove the lowest leaves. Slice the artichoke in half lengthwise. Using a small sharp knife remove the choke by slicing underneath it then pulling it out by the innermost leaves. Rinse the artichoke to get rid of any thistle bits.
  3. Stack the cleaned artichoke halves face down in the pressure cooker steamer basket, alternating them stem to top. Place the basket in your pressure cooker and seal the lid.
  4. Over a high flame, bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure. As soon as it reaches high pressure begin timing for 5 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off remove the pressure cooker from the hot burner and use the quick release method to remove the lid. Be sure to follow your pressure cooker manual on how to do this safely. Test the artichokes for doneness by inserting a fork into the stem and pulling off an outer leaf -- it should be tender and the leaf should pull away easily.
  6. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold with melted butter or your favorite dip. Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings, 2 halves per person

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