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I have always loved artichokes. Growing up in California, we used
to have them several nights a week in season. I liked them so
much that eventually Mom would cook two at a time--one for the rest of
the family, and one for me.
Every other artichoke preparation I've encountered has been
disappointing, because they're never as good. I just won't order
them anymore, even from a favorite restaurant. These are
the best, but this simple preparation is suprisingly absent from even
good vegetable cookbooks.
After cooking, the leaves and heart can be dipped in butter, or
even eaten plain, but I prefer them with plain mayonnaise.
It's the only reason I keep mayo in my kitchen.
You will need a pressure cooker, because the results are unique.
One or more artichokes (depending on your appetite), freshy with a
moist firm stalk
Rinse the artichiokes and trim off the bulk of the stalk. There
is no need to trim the leaves or any silliness like that, because the
pressure cooker will soften the spines a bit. Place them on a
steamer rack inside a pressure cooker above about an inch of water.
Bring them to 15lbs pressure for 22 minutes for a medium to
about 26 minutes for a quite large artichoke. Use a timer.
Be sure the sink is clear before they are done cooking.
When the timer goes off, immediately remove the pressure cooker from
the stove to the sink, running cold water over it to cool it rapidly
down until the pressure is down and it is safe to open the lid.
Remove them from the pot and serve with your favorite dip
"Baby" artichokes--not actually immature artichokes, but those growing
on the side branches rather than the main stalk--will take less time,
from 12-20 minutes depending on their size. When in doubt, cook
them for a shorter time, check for doneness (you want a tender heart
but not one falling apart), and put them back up to pressure for
another 1-3 minutes at a time.
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