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I would like to cook artichokes and eat as a Side Dish, since I've never tried to cook them before I wanted to see what recommendations people might have: Boil, Roast..take it apart first, cook them whole?

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Kind of a broad question. Is there a particular way to cook them you have in mind and want suggestions? I love artichokes and there is no bad way to prepare them. Maybe a more specific question would get you better results. – kiamlaluno Aug 3 '10 at 2:05
Agreed that it's broad, but what's a beginner to do? (no offense) We can rephrase it as , "What are the most common ways to prepare an artichoke, and what are their advantages". Or, we just make room for questions like these, and accept a best-approach style throwdown. – Ocaasi Aug 3 '10 at 3:10
It's a pretty straight forward question... – AttilaNYC Aug 3 '10 at 3:15
Not really. There are many ways to prepare artichokes. The question is just thrown out there without any qualification. Just my opinion. That and a certain sum of money gets you a subway ride. – kiamlaluno Aug 3 '10 at 3:33
Thank you for your answers: They were all helpful!! – AttilaNYC Aug 8 '10 at 12:21
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The easiest way I have found to cook whole artichokes is to steam them in the microwave.

Cut off the top of the bud and then trim off any beaten up tough outer leaves. Place in a large glass bowl with about 1/2 cup of water in the bottom. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for about 4-5 minutes. Check and add more time if necessary.

You can then eat the leaves and save the base and heart for another dish or eat the whole thing.

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Steaming in the microwave is the only way to go! A cookbook author friend of mine is the one that taught me that. I personally think artichokes are too much work for what you get (don't care to eat the leaves myself) so until I learned this I rarely cooked them. Well, I still rarely cook them but if I needed to that's how I'd do it! – Darin Sehnert Aug 3 '10 at 3:54

Artichokes are a very bland, tough ingredient when improperly prepared. And a succulent delight when done well. It's all about seasoning and cooking time. There are indeed different approaches, but I'll tell you how I would do it and why.

Artichokes take a long time to cook. They have a lot of fiber which needs to soften. They are very dense. The easiest approach is to boil them. It's fastest, cooks them thoroughly, and leaves a good texture. You won't lose too much flavor to the broth, unlike boiling something like broccoli.

Depending on the size, I'd recommend about 30 minutes at a full boil. If you take this route, I'd recommend finishing them in a nice hot oven (400-450) for the last 5 minutes.

After about 30 minutes take one out of the boiling water, testing for doneness by trying to pull a leaf off the outside. It should come off the choke easily, and the inside flesh should be soft and not fibrous against your teeth. If ready, take them all out, dump the excess water out on a tray, and dress with some great seasonings. I like olive oil/butter, garlic salt, and black pepper. Finish in the hot oven until the outsides are showing a bit of dryness.

More involved recipes will stuff the artichoke with breadcrumbs, fresh garlic and herbs, and different "stuffings". I'll leave that for another question, but suffice to say that an artichoke stuffed with buttery bread crumbs and fresh herbs has a lot going for it.

Extra: this website from an artichoke grower has a very thorough survey of different techniques. Clear explanations and video as well.

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I second Darin's point about cutting off the stem and any pointy or damaged leaves. – Ocaasi Aug 3 '10 at 5:51
Great Answer, Ocaasi! – AttilaNYC Aug 8 '10 at 12:21

I like to boil it in water with some lemon juice and salt, for 30-40 minutes like Ocaasi suggests; then serve with a good garlic mayonnaise / aioli type sauce by the side. You take the leaves off, dip the end that was closest to the choke in the sauce, and eat the soft part of the leaf. Then when only tiny leaves are left, you remove the rest and the "hair" and you're left with the choke itself, which you can eat just like that or save for a different dish.

When I serve this, it's usually the main dish. The work involved by the eaters might be a bit much for serving as a side dish, or it might work, depending on what you're serving it with.

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boil it with some soulful seasoning, garlic powder, and butter seasoning and water. then put it on the grill and eat it. BOOYAH!

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Before steaming, I typically cut the artichokes in half and gut the "flower" from the middle with a paring knife or melon baller. This way they cook much faster, are more tender all the way through and you don't have to deal with the mess of the flower after. Serve up with some garlic aioli and you're set!

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