Episode 70 – “Artichokes: The Choke is on You”

Posted: November 8, 2016 in Season 6
Tags: , , , , , ,

Artichokes were the star of the 70th episode of Good Eats. Alton first prepped artichokes in a traditional way, serving them cooked whole. There is no online link to this particular recipe, but I will spell it out as well as I can. This was my first time eating a whole artichoke in quite a long time, as my parents went through quite a phase with artichokes when I was a teenager. Seriously, we ate steamed artichokes a couple times a week for quite a while, and my brother and I were eventually completely burnt out. Having Alton’s version of the whole artichoke has rekindled my adoration for the thistle (FYI artichokes are thistles), and I will be serving them periodically as a side dish.

When selecting artichokes to eat whole, pick ones that are about the size of a large orange, are heavy for their size, and that have tight, crisp leaves.

img_5431

Whole artichokes.

Alton recommends storing them in the refrigerator in a 2-liter soda bottle that has been cut in half and placed back together to form a capsule. Prior to cooking your artichokes, dip them upside down in cold water, swirling them to release any debris in their leaves. Using an electric knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of the artichokes, saving the stems. Peel the stems prior to cooking and cook them with the artichokes; cooking the stems was new to me, but definitely worth it.

img_5432

Artichokes, tops and bottoms cut off, and stems peeled.

To cook the chokes, put 2 t Kosher salt in a wide stainless steel of anodized aluminum pot (artichokes can react with other metals, producing off-flavors and colors). Add the artichokes, stem side up and cover them with cold water by at least an inch.

The artichokes will float, but you can weigh them down with a steamer basket insert and a weight.

img_5436

Artichokes, weighed down with a steamer basket insert and weight.

Bring the water, uncovered, to a boil over high heat. Don’t forget to throw in the stems! Artichokes contain both chlorophyll and acids, which are normally separate. However, when you cook an artichoke, the acids and chlorophyll combine, producing compounds that will turn artichokes brown; these compounds are volatile, so you can let them evaporate by keeping your pot uncovered. If you do not want to watch the pot, you can insert your probe thermometer, setting the alarm for 210 degrees. Once your water is boiling, decrease the heat and let the artichokes simmer for 10 minutes. Test the artichokes by inserting a sharp paring knife into the stem end – if the knife goes in with little resistance and comes out clean, the artichokes are done.

img_5437

Artichokes, after being brought to a boil and simmering for 10 minutes.

Drain your cooked artichokes in a foil-covered colander for at least five minutes before serving. To eat the artichokes, serve them next to lemon butter, dipping each leaf and scraping the “meat” with your teeth.

img_5441

Cooked artichokes, served with lemon butter.

Once you only have tiny leaves remaining, pull the leaves apart, exposing the hairy choke inside.

Pressing down on the choke with one hand, use a sharp paring knife to cut around the base, just under the dark green line.

img_5447

Using a sharp knife to cut around beneath dark green line.

Pull the top off and discard, and remove any remaining hairy tufts. Eat the remaining base of the artichoke, dipping it in lemon butter.

We really enjoyed Alton’s preparation of whole artichokes, especially since neither of us had eaten on in years. In fact, we liked them so much that we cooked them a second time last week. And, the bases and stems are totally worth eating – good eats for sure!

Broiled Chokes

Alton’s second artichoke preparation is for broiled chokes. For this recipe you will need a grapefruit spoon, a serrated knife (preferably electric), a vegetable peeler, two containers of acidulated water (water with lemon juice added), and a cutting board. Holding a whole artichoke, first pull off and discard all of its leaves until you have just a purple interior remaining.

Run a vegetable peeler down the sides of the choke and the stem. Also run the peeler around the outside until you have a smooth surface. To help prevent browning, dip your utensils in one container of acidulated water between uses.

img_5453

Artichoke, after being cleaned up with a vegetable peeler.

Once your choke is clean, use an electric knife to cut it in half. Use a grapefruit spoon to pry out the hairy choke, which will probably take a few tries. Place the cleaned choke in the second container of lemon water while you clean the others.

When ready to use, drain the chokes and wrap them tightly in paper towels. Toss them with olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper, and broil them, face-up, on a rack 5-6 inches below the heat for five minutes. Flip the chokes and broil for three minutes on the second side.

Eat the chokes as they are, or do as Alton did in the episode and marinate them in his herb oil, which I will write up below.

Herb Oil

According to what he says in this episode, Alton prefers to marinate his broiled chokes (above) in herb oil. His oil can be made by heating to 200 degrees a pint of canola oil with a cup of olive oil in a saucepan. While the oil heats, add to a mason jar:  the zest from half an orange, 1/2 C fresh parsley, 1/2 C fresh thyme, 1/2 C fresh basil, 1/2 C fresh oregano, 1 dried arbol chile, and 1 t black peppercorns.

img_5424

Ingredients for Alton’s herb oil: fresh thyme, black peppercorns, fresh oregano, fresh parsley, orange zest, fresh basil, and a dried arbol chile.

Pour the warm oil over the herbs, letting the oil sit overnight; my oil got a little cloudy overnight, but later cleared again.

The following day, strain the herb oil by pouring it through cheesecloth into a jar containing your broiled chokes. Let the chokes marinate for a couple days before using.

And, what is Alton’s preferred use for his marinated chokes?

img_5472

Broiled chokes, after marinating for a couple days.

He prefers to make a pasta salad with bowtie pasta, the marinated chokes, some of the herb oil, red wine vinegar, small tomatoes, herbs, Parmesan, and pepper (he did not actually prep a pasta salad in the episode). I took his advice and tried his marinated, broiled chokes in such a pasta salad.

img_5473

A pasta salad made with Alton’s marinated chokes.

While the chokes were good, I cannot say that they were honestly worth all the effort. Honestly, I think the bottled, marinated artichokes from Costco are just as good as Alton’s, and for zero effort. While I am glad I now know how to prep an artichoke, I won’t be making these again.

Comments
  1. […] when I did Alton’s episode on artichokes, I seriously questioned his judgement in not including a recipe for spinach/artichoke […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s