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Apr 6, 2011 12:08 PM

NYC's best artichoke

Recently I've been trying to cook artichokes, since I had only eaten them frozen from Trader Joe's or soaking in jars full of oil. However, my efforts to cook actual artichokes--steamed, and in a raw salad (baby artichokes)--have been really unsatisfying. So I want to know whether I don't like artichokes or just suck at cooking them.

Therefore, where can I get the best preparation of an artichoke in Manhattan? Steamed is probably the best, although other ways to eat them (with minimal accompaniment) are okay too.

Trader Joe's
142 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

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  1. Have you tried microwaving?

    1. As a devotee of artichokes, I'd be willing to bet you have not become accustomed to the fresh thistle's taste. Canned, bottled etc artichokes have never, in my experience, tasted a thing like fresh. Same is true of heart of palm...for me, anyway.

      1. In what precise way did your efforts lead to unsatisfying results? Were the leaves not tender enough? Too tender and mushy? If you've only had jarred, etc., perhaps you're used to biting into the whole thing and are not ready to negotiate the tooth scraping necessary for the outer leaves. Details of your difficulties would help us help you.

        Edited to add: these are prepared artichokes but I've had very good roasted artichokes bathing in olive oil from several places. Murray's Cheese to name one name.

        Murray's Cheese
        254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

        2 Replies
        1. re: FoodDabbler

          I made the raw salad (from Dorie Greenspan's blog) this weekend, and I thought that it tasted kind of astringent and unpleasant. I should have discarded more of the outer leaves and only left the softer inner leaves, but I kept them and ate them and felt like my throat was full of spikes for the next day or so.

          I've steamed artichokes a few times, but either they've been overcooked and flavorless or undercooked and harsh/spiky, or something. I really just want to find a place where someone else is preparing amazing artichokes so that I have a basis for comparison when I try it at home.

          1. re: katzimmer

            I haven't eaten artichokes widely in Manhattan, but the homey little bistro on 50th, Chez Napoleon, has a good, plain steamed artichoke that they serve with a garlicy dipping sauce. Other hounds will undoubtedly have other suggestions.

            About spikiness: trimming the tips off all the leaves is key. You can use kitchen scissors to do this. Fully removing the fuzzy choke is also essential. You can also go to a place like Eataly, choose an artichoke, and have the vegetable butcher do both for you.

            Getting the correct balance between not tender and too tender (and tasteless) is trickier. Generally it's done when an outer leaf comes off easily. And those outer leaves *are* delicious. You just have to remember to scrape off the flesh with your teeth, as I said, not try and eat them fully.

            Chez Napoleon
            365 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

            200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

        2. It pains me that you've had bad experiences cooking artichokes. And they can be crazy expensive in restaurants. I urge you to hold off on attempting to make raw artichoke dishes until you've gotten a handle on steaming them, and/or wait a little longer until you can get baby artichokes.

          This may get kicked into "Home Cooking" but simplest way to steam an artichoke: put 2 inches of water in medium pot and put on heat, lop off most of the artichoke stem so it can sit upright, cover and cook artichoke on medium heat for 40-45 minutes. You can cut off the points on the leaves but I usually don't bother.

          For dip I make simple vinaigrette of olive oil, cider vinegar, s&p. Lemon-butter is also good. Remoulade is sinfully good.

          Scrape leaves with your teeth, then when you get to the fuzzy choke, use a teaspoon to scrape that section off the heart, which is the best part.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Niblet

            I agree that you can cook an artichoke without first "dressing" it (although, should that not be "undressing"?) but someone new to its splendors may find a trimmed artichoke easier to negotiate at the point of consumption. Either way, an artichoke takes effort. It's not a potato. It must be tackled with greater care, but the rewards are also greater.

          2. Steamed artichokes with vinaigrette are a dime a dozen (metaphorically), but you might be interested in Novita's insalata di carciofini, which is very thinly sliced raw baby artichoke with mushrooms and parmesan. The thing about artichokes, as you discovered yourself after trying to prepare them, is that they are 80% trash, which is a hard thing to wrap your mind around if you are even 1% thrifty. If you feel like trying to cook them again at some point, Marcella Hazan's method is an excellent one. It's a lot of prep, but that means there's less work to do during the eating part.


            102 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

            2 Replies
            1. re: small h

              "they are 80% trash" ... lol.
              I remember steaming (clarified butter)
              yeah, draw those leaves over those front teeth ...
              breading, sure, plenty of recipes.

              I've come to prefer a more "roman" "jewish quarter" riff ...
              Pull back the outer leaves till you arrive at the young
              lop off the top quarter, pare base and stem
              halve, pull the choke and very young inner leaves (which can have nasty thorned crests)
              drop in a pan of acidulated water ... figure two inches of water & two lemons
              simmer low
              pull and drain at just under fork tender
              light flour ... hot oil till the top outer are crisp
              salt and a squeeze of lemon.

              Sure. lots of work ... but then there's favas.

              1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                The method you describe is the subject of the second link in my post (there are good illustrations there as well). Teamwork!