Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Steamed Artichoke with Garlic Mayo Dip - VIDEO

With a smooth buttery texture, the tender flesh of an artichoke heart is close to the flavor and feel of a ripe, creamy avocado. Who would think the veggie world's version of a scaly armadillo could disguise such deliciousness? And if you've ever wondered how to cook and eat one, you will travel to the tasty heart of the matter in The 99 Cent Chef's latest stop-motion animated video tutorial.

You may have tasted the marinated artichoke hearts found in cans and jars. Those are fine in a salad or pasta sauce -- but to experience the subtle essence of this garden treat, simply steaming it fresh is the way to go.

The canned and jarred versions are easily found for a dollar at 99c only Stores, but it is always a special treat to find the fresh scaly heads on sale. Here in California, where most of the U.S. crop is cultivated, it is often cheaper in price.

And an artichoke couldn't be simpler to cook: add an inch of water, cover the pot, and steam for about half an hour. Some recipes call for trimming the artichoke petals of their small barb tips, but if you are careful enough, even that is unnecessary.

You will want to make a dipping sauce though. Traditionally you just sop melted butter with the steamed petals, but I like a light Garlic Mayo Dip for variety and fewer calories -- which is just a mix of garlic powder with lite regular or vegan mayo. (When sour cream is on sale, I'll use that with garlic powder.)

Eating a whole artichoke can be tricky, especially the last part. It's easy to peel off the petals and scrape off the inner tender flesh with your teeth. (The wide end closest to the artichoke interior is the edible part.) As you reach the center, more of the base of each petal becomes edible. But just when the whole petal is tender, it becomes stringy and inedible. You have now reached the fuzzy "choke."

Don't stop there, just scoop out that fuzzy topping with a spoon or butter knife and behold the most tender and tasty artichoke heart. You are now within reach of savory nirvana. Relish this tender destination -- you went through a lot of small teasing morsels to reach it.

And if you need more goading to try your hand at making Steamed Artichoke with Garlic Mayo Dip, then just check out The 99 Cent Chef's cleverly concise stop-motion animated recipe video below!

The directions I've written out below may seem overly detailed, but they're for the benefit of my readers who are new to the pleasures of the artichoke.

Steamed Artichoke with Garlic Mayo Dip - VIDEO

Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes 16 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

99 thanks to Amy -- my number one taste tester!

3-D without glasses
Ingredients (One serving)
  • 1 artichoke - the larger the better.
  • 1 cup of water for steaming - depending on the size of the pot. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pot about an inch deep. Add more water as needed during steaming.
Garlic Mayo (or Sour Cream) Dip
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered garlic - okay to add more to taste. Can use raw crushed garlic fresh or from a jar.
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of mayo - light, regular or vegan. Depending on the size of the artichoke may need to double the recipe. Sour cream is a great substitution for mayo.
Directions for Garlic Mayo Dip
In a small bowl add dried powdered garlic to mayo (or sour cream.) Mix well and set aside in the refrigerator for at least half an hour as the artichoke steams.

Directions for Steaming Artichoke
 You want an artichoke with green (or light olive-colored) leaves. Sometimes there is a slight scarlet color in the petal tips. The petals on an older artichoke turn brown and become stringy, but the inner petals and the artichoke heart are still tasty. 

Trim off the stem of the artichoke. You can just cut off half an inch of a longer stem. (I've peeled and steamed the stem and chewed on it when done -- sometimes a little stringy like uncooked sugar cane, but still tasty.)

In a pot large enough to hold and cover the artichoke, add water, artichoke, and steam. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and steam/simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes. Check on water every 10 minutes to make sure it doesn't boil out -- add a 1/4 cup at a time if needed. Done when base of the artichoke is tender and pierces easily with a knife.

Now it's time to chow down. Place the artichoke on a plate and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Get out the Garlic Mayo Dip.

Artichoke petals should easily peel off the choke. The inside of the petal closest to the wide end is the edible part (the pointy ends do not soften.) Just dip or scoop some Garlic Mayo Dip onto the inside petal end and scrape off the leaf flesh with your teeth. There won't be much on the outer petals, but as you work your way to the inner petals, they become more fleshy.

You are now close to the best part. But when you get close to the middle of the artichoke, you'll reach the inedible 'choke' - when the leaves become stringy, you'll know.

If you look at the profile of the vegetable that remains, you'll see the seam line where the choke is. Take a spoon, or butter knife, and scoop out the fuzzy choke. Dig out a little at a time, careful not to scoop away the fleshy edible center. You will have a bowl-shaped 'heart' left. This is the tasty, meaty finale. Dip and eat the whole thing!

Instead of garlic and mayo, try other ingredients added to mayo, like dried ginger or a favorite fresh chopped herb. Plain melted warm butter is a great decadent dipping sauce. Lately, I've been using sour cream with garlic powder as a dipping sauce.

The heart of nirvana

To keep the artichoke from turning brown while cooking, some directions call for adding a tablespoon of lemon juice (or a lemon slice) to simmering water -- I don't mind a color change so I left that step out. You can add lemon if you want to, but I find these acidic flavors permeate the artichoke heart.

Once you've steamed a few artichokes you will know when you get to the inedible inner choke -- I have munched a few stringy, fuzzy, and bitter choke petals, blech! The outer petal may not have much tender flesh to scrape off, but once you get deeper, it gets better.

Some artichoke petals have sharp barbed tips. You can trim them off with kitchen scissors if you are feeding a youngster. For my video, I left them on.

You can also dig out the fuzzy choke before you steam it. It takes a bit of work though.


Nancy said...

I love artichokes. In my wild and chequered youth I used to drive through fields of them in Northern California when the sun was rising and the mists and fogs were about. Beautiful plant.

You are so lucky to get the fresh ones cheaper at times. Ours are either too old or outlandish prices.

Candy Robinson said...

Wow, this is a cool video! Amy did a great job! Love the spinning 3D artichoke too. Pretty cool :)

B.Keene said...

Yummm, can't wait to try. you made it look easy to prepare. Always been challenged by them.

Kristin said...

Cool video! THX

Unknown said...

Oh fantastic i will try it of course...

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