Artichokes on the menu?
I had never really been an artichoke lover until I just recently learned how to cook and eat it in the simplest possible way: steamed until tender, then pick off the leaves one at a time and dip on good olive oil dripped onto a plate, a bit of salt, drag through your teeth to scrape the meat off the leaf and voila! Great finger food. I am addicted.
The prepared artichoke hearts found at cafeterias and salad bars seem to be semi-pickled and just do not compare with fresh cooked. I will probably be growing my own next year, I see that http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8345-imp... has an organic variety.
Now I'm asking fellow chowhounders to please help expand my artichoke universe and share your cooking methods.
I'd also like to hear about local restaurants that have great versions of artichoke, be they appetizers or incorporated into main dishes. I am on a mission, any and all suggestions appreciated.
I honestly think you'll do better to revisit this question in early spring, when fresh artichokes start coming in. You will start to see them pop up on a number of seasonal menus.
My personal favorite when they have them are the baby artichokes at Highland Kitchen - they are braised in olive oil, then finished on a grill, with some sort of yummy dip - really good.
150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143
When I can get really fresh baby artichokes (spring, as Bob D notes), my favorite preparation is Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish-style artichokes), a classic Roman dish. You basically deep-fry them until crisp and brown, but there are a couple of little tricks involved that make them open up like a flower and also cook through the center - google for recipes.
Thanks Bob D, I will revisit the topic in the spring although I was under the impression that they are a late season crop.?
BobB, that's a great picture and I definitely will try to duplicate that at home since the recipes for it sound easy enough.
20oystahs, I think a visit to Stella is in short order, thanks for the heads up.
CocoDan, I live near Randolph and will try your LaScala bar suggestion, thanks. I'll call ahead.
re: Ora Moose
Hi Ora -
I always figured that they were spring because artichokes are really just immature thistle flowers. Really BIG thistles, mind you.
Wikipedia suggests we both may be right: "The peak season for artichoke harvesting is the spring, but they continue to be harvested throughout the summer, with another peak period in mid autumn."
I like to braise artichokes - use a heavy pan with a lid, like enameled cast iron, trim the artichokes, place in the pan with some garlic cloves, a little olive oil, a lemon cut and squeezed (I still put the squeezed halves in) and 1/2 inch of water. Place it over a very low flame and cover. It takes 45 minutes to an hour, and i baste every so often, when I remember to.
Braising works even better for stuffed artichokes. I like a couscous stuffing with pinenuts and currents or raisins. First you have to steam the artichokes enough to be able to open up the leaves and remove the choke (microwave works great for this) then shove stuffing where ever you can fit it.