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Disarming the Artichoke

Posted on: June 19th, 2013

Don’t you just love artichokes!  They’re great steamed, stuffed or grilled and hard to beat in appetizers, pastas, salads, dips, pizza and breads. A Mediterranean favorite since Greek times, Italian immigrants started planting their beloved ‘carciofi’ near the town of Castroville around the turn of the century. Today 2/3 of the domestic crop hails from that area.

You can grow artichokes here in Colorado, I allowed this one to flower, an amazing sight!
Disarming the Artichoke
Fresh artichokes do present a few problems, pick one up and you’ll quickly discover tiny spikes tipping each leaf (not so much on the Globe variety). I suggest you deal with these first. Place the artichoke on a cutting board and while holding onto the stem use a sharp chef’s knife to trim the tips from all the leaves.

Artichoke Tips and Zesty Shrimp Stuffing Video
Cutting, cleaning and cooking tips along with a simple recipe for shrimp remoulade stuffed artichokes

 

Remove the Choke
Disarmed of its first layer of defense, it’s time to deal with the second – the thistly ‘choke’ in the center.  The easiest method is to split the artichoke in half and then remove the offending thistles with a paring knife (demonstrated in the video).  Then the artichoke can be cooked in halves or quarters.
Globe artichokes are large to huge and their leaves don’t have spiny tips, but the season is short.
The freshly cut artichoke will darken in a matter of minutes. You can avoid this by placing them in lemon water until ready to cook, or just prepare your steamer or boiling water and drop them directly in after cutting.
Tuscan Grilled Artichoke – steam, chill, toss in olive oil and Tony’s Tuscan Grill Rub and then grill.
Cooking Artichokes
You can either boil or steam your cut artichokes. To steam, arrange in steamer baskets, covering and cooking until tender. To boil, bring plenty of water to a boil, add salt and lemon and then your artichokes, simmering until done. Cooking times vary based on the artichokes and conditions, they usually take about 20-30 minutes, sometimes longer, just keep an eye so they don’t overcook and get mushy. If you plan to eat them later, shock-chill in iced water, drain well and refrigerate.
Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Herb Compound Butter, coming to Tony’s soon!
I like to serve my hot artichoke with a tab of compound butter; just mash room temperature butter with lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon and Tony’s Italian Herb Medley, you could also add minced onion, garlic or whatever tickles your fancy. Pipe (or dollop) the room temperature butter into the hot artichoke and it melts to create a dipping sauce as you eat. They can also be microwaved with cold butter and served, just don’t overdo it!
Tony’s Stuffed Artichoke, bake to brown and serve – call ahead to order in our deli.
Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Artichoke
This stuffing is also great in chicken and pork chops, I suggest adding artichoke hearts
2-3 prepared artichokes
1 link Tony’s fresh Italian sausage
1/2 onion, slivered
1 shallot, minced
6 oz. crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup chicken stock or wine
1 cup (or so) Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano – Reggiano
salt, pepper & herbs to taste
To prepare artichokes, trim sharp tips from leaves and trim stalk. Split each artichoke and with a paring knife, remove thistly choke from center. Steam in a pot of salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. If preparing ahead, shock in ice water to cool completely.
Crumble Italian sausage in hot pan and chop. Add onion and shallots and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil, reducing slightly. Add breadcrumb, Parmigiano and season to taste with salt, pepper and Italian herbs.
Spoon mixture into prepared artichokes and brown under a broiler, or hold in a warm oven until ready to serve. Can also be made earlier in the day and heated in a 375 degree oven. – Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com

Creamy Shellfish Stuffed Artichokes

Ready to pick in Castroville CA
Great with shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops or a combination
4 large artichokes, washed and trimmed
1 lb. peeled shrimp, crab meat chunks, lobster tail chunks or a combination
1 TBS butter
2 TBS chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh dill or tarragon
1 TBS, or more, lemon juice
1/2-cup mayonnaise, salad dressing, or plain yogurt
2 TBS of your finest olive oil
sea salt flakes and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Trim artichoke leaf tips, split in half and remove choke. Boil in water with lemon and salt until tender – 30-40 minutes, shock in ice water and reserve at room temperature. Meanwhile, saute the shellfish in butter to cook, taking care not to overcook!  Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
Toss the shrimp with the parsley, herbs, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Blend the oil and mayonnaise together, add to the shrimp mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and additional lemon juice if necessary. Fill the artichokes with the mixture and serve. Enjoy the shrimp, and each layer of leaves is already dipped in creamy sauce! Can be done in advance and chilled. Serves 8 as an appetizer. – Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com
Tuscan Grilled Artichoke
Tuscan Grilled Artichokes
Prepare ahead, chill and grill just before serving
Two large, fresh artichokes
3 TBS Picual olive oil
1 TBS Tony’s Tuscan Grill Seasoning; or salt, pepper and Italian herb medley
1 tsp minced garlic (optional)
Prepare a steamer or a large pot of boiling water – steaming is preferred.
Allow at least one half artichoke per person. Prepare artichokes for cooking – split artichokes into halves or quarters and remove the choke with a careful cut with a small sharp knife between the heart and the thistles. Pull separated thistles out and rinse to remove any stray thistles.
Steam or boil, cooking until just tender, about 15-30 minutes (depends on the artichokes; steaming preferred; test for doneness with a fork in the heart). Drain artichokes and set aside, can be done in advance and brought back to room temperature before proceeding.
Preheat a medium high direct grill. Combine lemon zest with olive oil, Tony’s Tuscan Grill Seasoning and garlic, if using. Brush on the insides of the artichoke halves and quarters and grill to mark and heat through.
Great served as is; drizzled with olive oil, melted butter, compound butter and/or fresh lemon juice, or Balsamico di Modena. Serves about 4 as a first course or side dish.

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