This is a very ‘technical’, ‘dry’ sort of post I suppose … but one that might prove very useful for anyone wanting to cut a few corners when cooking artichokes: i.e. the benefit of a pressure cooker.
Artichokes take a while to trim and prepare (see my post “Edible roses – the seasonally correct archichoke” of March 2011) but it is a good idea not to exaggerate the onus of prepping, we are not saving the world here. It is definitely a bit of a bore if we are talking about more than six artichokes, otherwise it is like anything else in life: a little bit of attention, a little bit of patience, a little bit of dexterity and elbow grease, high expectations and a lot of smiling within (to counteract the eventuality of a ‘beautiful catastophe’ as Zorba the Greek put it). Why bother otherwise?
Artichokes are not their best at this time of year … they are still small and spikey and very very tough. By the time you’ve finished removing the excess of surrounding leaves, you are left with half the size of the inital artichoke … and sometimes even less. It might seem like a terrible waste at first but, believe me, it’s the only way to go … you ‘ve got to be cruel to be kind when it comes to peeling artichokes, there is no other way — those outer leaves are mean and nasty and quite inedible!
Anyway … once the articokes are trimmed, you’re on your merry way and it’s almost a doddle. Drizzle enough olive oil to cover the base of the pressure cooker. Measure one clove of garlic per artichoke. Stuff each artichoke with a little bit of parsely and one of the cloves of garlic. Sprinkle salt. Put your hands into the pressure cooker and play with the artichokes, turning them round and round in the olive oil so that they get fully coated with the oil. More often than not, at least one of the cloves of garlic that you so carefully inserted into the artichoke will plop out … and so what? never mind. Let it be. It can’t run away …
Pour in less than half a glass of water … say about 100ml. Place the lid on the pressure cooker, switch on the heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes in all.
(Please excuse the dreadful colours in this photo — this is not my normal skin hue!) And then … as if by magic … after about 20-25 minutes, you have some very tasty and tender artichokes to serve! Take a look:
I was eating out a a friend’s that evening and was asked to bring carfioci … so I transferred the artichokes to a pyrex container.
It may look very ‘oily’ from the outside … but don’t forget that the liquid you see contains water, as well as oil.