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Getting Artichokes Tender

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Last weekend we were out to dinner and had the absolute best stuffed artichoke ever. The usual breadcrumb mixture with lots of garlic and herbs but with some chopped hard boiled egg in it too (which was new for us).

Now, my MIL makes these all the time and I've learned from her how to do it. However, neither of us has quite perfected the art of getting them to be as perfect as the one we had in the restaurant.

My MIL's tend to be completely overcooked - they become very mushy. Not bad (in fact, quite good) - but the artichoke becomes almost unnecessary in the end.

My problem seems to be that the outer layers are not cooking enough. I prefer not to overcook them as she does, but obviously I must not be cooking them enough. Mine tend to have a tastier stuffing, and retain more artichoke flavor but I am going wrong somewhere in the cooking time.

The ones in the restaurant were cooked so perfectly that nearly all the interior leaves were able to be eaten whole, not just scraping the flesh on your teeth. You literally could chew them up they were so tender. Unbelievable! How did they accomplish this without it resorting to a soggy mess?

Any ideas?

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  1. Alot of that has to do with the quality of the artichokes and how fresh they are. The ones from my garden have the tender interior leaves you describe. Maybe the restaurant has an especially good supplier? Otherwise, you can always try tasting a leaf or two while they're cooking to make sure they're not getting overcooked. Not much help, sorry.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Glencora

      Maybe that IS the key. I know my MIL probably buys not-so-good 'chokes, due to trying to be cost effective. I'll buy the best I can find, will go out of my way to get them however, being I live on the east coast, I'm sure by the time they arrive here they already must be a couple of days old minimum by the time I'm buying them, if not more. A restaurant probably can get them fresher if using them in bulk I'd imagine, or must have a reputable source.

      Thanks for pointing that out, it never occurred to me.

    2. This might help as it did for me. I had an italian mother show me that in order to have the perfect artichoke first you need a large pot(like for pasta) you stuff your artichokes and place as many as you can fit allowing some space in between. Add some italian dressing(optional) then add water to about a 1/2 inch or so depending on the size. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to about Med Low.Check them after 15-20mins for tenderness and water(prevent burning).they should take about 20-25mins.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FAB

        That's exactly what my (Italian) MIL does. I guess maybe she's just leaving them in there a bit too long - and me, just not long enough LOL.

      2. Is the restaurant maybe steaming them so they can cook longer without the watery mushy result?

        1. Yeah, IMO, artichokes are much better steamed than boiled. Boiling tends to bring on the mush. I tend to cut mine in half before I steam them, but I realize that wouldn't work so well for stuffing.

          1. absolutely try steaming them. keeping them out of the cooking liquid will help prevent the outer leaves from getting too soggy while allowing you to cook them so they are tender all the way through. that is how i do it and i always have great results.
            good luck. if you do try steaming them, let us know how you like the results.

            1. I'll try steaming next time I find some good looking ones at the store. They had them today - but they were pathetic looking :-(

              1. I use the method from Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet for perfect artichokes every time. It is to simply trim and wash them and wrap in heavy plastic wrap. At full power it takes about 7-8 minutes to steam 2 'chokes in the wave. They have much more flavor since they steam in their own juices. Just let them sit in the plastic wrap a few minutes until they are comfortable to handle and the bottom is easily pierced with a knife tip then unwrap and I usually spread the leaves and use a melomn baller to remove the soft inner leaves and "choke" and serve. No muss no fuss and delicious. No more steaming pots etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Candy

                  That's something to try. It would really make it so much easier for me. Do you put them into some other kind of container, like a Pyrex dish or just throw them in wrapped as is?

                  1. re: sivyaleah

                    Just wrapped as is on trhe microwave tray, They will puff up and steam beautifully, and could not be simpler. A friend who is from the Netherlands had never cooked them before, last spring needed to do so for a gournet club dinner appetizer and asked for help. We had 6 done and perfectly in no time for the party. She said she had eaten the before but never particularily cared for them. These were different and made an artichoke eater out of her.

                2. I do them in the microwave too and I like the way they come out(ala Kafka), but a word of warning for those who haven't tried it before. The cooking time varies widely depending on the microwave you are using and the number of chokes in the oven. I usually have to cook a few minutes longer than you indicated. People will just have to test it on their own ovens, but once you have the timing down the you are set.

                  I don't find the flavor is significantly different than steaming, so perhaps the Netherlands guest had just finally aquired the taste.

                  1. I find them richer and nuttier in flavor cooked in the microwave. They steam in their own juices and are not so diluted. I usually cook about 2 at a time.