|Artichauts cocotte minute|
|Pressure cooked Artichokes|
At this very moment green artichokes are popping up everywhere in our garden and at the outdoor markets. Artichokes are often “turned” so that all of the outside leaves end up being removed with a knife, leaving only the heart which can then be cooked. This can be time consuming and requires the sharpest knife possible to do it effectively. An alternate way to enjoy an artichoke is to cook it whole and eat it slowly by removing each leaf - one at a time - dipping the bottom part only in a sauce, and then scraping that between your top and bottom teeth. (Be sure to put the flesh side against your bottom teeth. ☺ ) You will find a little bit of artichoke in each leaf. There is almost nothing there in the beginning (but the sauce is still good!). As you progress around the artichoke, there is more and more to enjoy until eventually you are rewarded with the heart! The prickly tip should be avoided, or cut off. Admittedly, this is a somewhat messier way to eat an artichoke (which is why you would never see this version in fine dining restaurants), but we like the adventure and the conviviality it brings to the table. The sauce is as important to the process as the artichoke. I tend to prefer yoghurt-based sauces, but vinaigrettes and warmed butter with lemon are equally good and more traditional. I find that the easiest and fastest way to cook whole artichokes is in a pressure cooker, however boiling on a stovetop with a lid also works. Have a bowl ready at the table for the discarded leaves, and make sure you have extra napkins available!
Ingredients – for 4 people
4 whole Macau artichokes (or green globe artichokes)
Water, salt and lemon juice
Sauce #1: Green chutney yoghurt
6 heaping spoons of creamy Greek yoghurt, or quantity desired
Quantity desired of green chutney (start with 1 tsp and go from there)
Lemon, salt and piment d’Espelette to taste
Sauce #1: Sherry Vinegar vinaigrette
3 soup spoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard
3 soup spoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 soup spoon grapeseed (or other neutral flavor) oil
Salt, pepper – to taste
- Rinse under cold water. Hold by the stem and drain the water, which may also drain out some little garden pests. Leave a bit of the stem, about 2-3 inches. The stem can be bitter, but it can also still be good in younger artichokes which is why I don’t cut it off. Peel off the bottom leaves which might be small or looking like they should be peeled off!
- If using a Cookeo type pressure cooker (which is what I have), place the artichokes in the pan. Add water until it is more than halfway submerged. Add a couple pinches of salt, and juice of a small lemon. Close and lock lid. Set machine to pressure cooking option, then select manual cooking. Set to 10 minutes for small to medium sized artichokes, or 15 minutes for large artichokes. After the cooking time has elapsed, validate the artichokes are adequately cooked. Take a knife and prick the stem, and also prick near the heart. If it inserts without problem, it is done. If not, reclose the machine and leave it in the hot water with the lid closed another 10 minutes or so, until tender (without the pressure cooking option at this point). Once cooked, remove and set aside. Drain the water well by holding upside down. Scrape off the outside of the stem. Can be served at room temperature or warm.
- If using stovetop, bring large pot of water to a boil, add a couple of pinches of salt and lemon juice. Add artichokes, cover with a lid and simmer about 20-40 minutes until tender. See above note on Cookeo for other details.
- Sauce #1 – Green Chutney Yoghurt. Using my recipe for green chutney (from Terrance’s previous newsletters), mix the Greek yoghurt and chutney to taste. Adjust with seasoning as desired (lemon, salt, piment d’Espelette or Cayenne pepper). The color should end up being a delightful light green that screams “Spring”!, and the flavour should be deep, interesting and full of flavour. Sometimes, I will also add a little Sriracha sauce to give it some zip.
- Sauce #2 – Sherry Vinegar Vinaigrette. Put the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar. Add oils and shake. Taste and adjust as needed.
- To Serve: Bring the cooked artichokes to the table with individual ramekins filled with your sauce of choice for each person, or multiple sauces if you really want to indulge your guests! Eat as described above. CAUTION: DO NOT INGEST THE PRICKLY TIP! You can either give each guest their own bowl for discarding the leaves, or a single bowl for the table – your choice.