Steamed Artichoke Basics

Before you choose whether to dip an artichoke's leaves in melted butter or mayo, you've got to cook the veggie. Steaming artichokes is straightforward, and you don't need any special equipment. Many hounds skip a steamer rack, preferring to fit the artichokes snugly in a pot on their own. Whether to cut off the artichokes' tops is up to you. "I put the artichokes in a pan in which they will all fit closely upside down," says jmnewel. "Put a good inch or so of water in the pan, add a goodly splash of vinegar, cover, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat so that the artichokes remain at a very low boil for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size. They are done when a knife inserted into the stem end meets no resistance."

escondido123 prefers to steam artichokes right side up. She trims the stems to make the bottoms flat and removes the lower leaves, then fits them snugly in a pot, along with the peeled and trimmed stems (one of the best parts, she says) and some lemon slices, and steams in an inch of water. sparkareno takes a different approach. "I can't be bothered worrying about the pot boiling dry," she says. "I fit them into a pot as tightly as I can, stems down, and add water almost to the top of the artichokes. Simmer for about 40 minutes." She tosses a handful of peeled garlic cloves into the cooking water and then mashes them into her dipping sauce.

Some hounds prefer to microwave artichokes, for near-instant gratification. jmcarthur8 rinses them, wraps them tightly in plastic wrap, and microwaves for about 5 minutes, then tests them to see if a leaf pulls away easily, adding more time if necessary. audreyhtx1 cuts an artichoke in half, rubs the cut surfaces with lemon, and cooks it in a microwave steamer bag.

Check out CHOW's method for steaming artichokes and video tips on how to choose artichokes.

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