Artichoke and IPA
This must be one of my favorite things to do in this world; having an amazing IPA (India Pale Ale), nipping on an artichoke and dipping it in a heavenly mixture of lime, salt and butter. All this while sitting in my kitchen with the windows wide open, with a view over the city, listening to The Kinks and being with my favorite person in the world (Andy). That is truly one of the best things to do after a long days work; getting woozy on great beer and eating all the while.
Artichokes are not eaten much here, and it’s a pity since they are so delicious, easy to prepare and fun to snack on while waiting for the real dinner. I’ll show you how to make this little bastard in a second so you can get a piece of the goodness as well!
But first things first: you have to be picky when buying your choke. Most of the ones you see in the stores are not very good looking. The trick is to find a very firm one, where you can tell there isn’t much air between all the leaves. Also it helps that it has a healthy, green color (even though you sometimes find ones that are supposed to be purple) and doesn’t look to beat up.
When you’ve found your perfect choke, you cut off the top, and some of the stem, like I did it in the picture above. For some reason this is easiest to do with a bread knife, and what it does is it helps the steam get inside the artichoke, and cook even the inner leaves. When this is done, fill a pot with a couple inches of water, and place a steam tray in it as well. Put on your lid, and turn up the heat to make the water boil. Then you steam the choke(s) until they are tender. The cooking time really varies like crazy with artichokes, but this one took me 22 minutes to cook. But check it by pulling out a leaf once in a while to taste if the soft, inner part of it come off the rest of the leaf. I have sometimes cooked artichokes for 1 1/2 hour to make them tender, so there it no way around tasting it (which is half the pleasure).
And now we will start on making the best part of this snack; the dip. You grab some butter, probably a quarter of a stick per artichoke, one lime or half a lemon (I have always used lemon, but this evening I only had lime, and that was just as good) and some sea salt. Place all this (the juice of the lime of course) in a pot and melt the butter and make sure the salt has dissolved and the lime is integrated into the butter. Oh man, this is delicious. Now all you have to do is to sit down with whoever you like most in the world, put in your favorite music and have the beer of your dreams and enjoy the late afternoon. But for all you artichoke rookies out there, I’ll let you in on how to eat this strange vegetable. I had never had an artichoke like this before I met Andy; I think they are eaten more in the states (where he is from) than here in Denmark, and I had no idea how to approach the creature.
As you can see on this gorgeous picture of gnawed on artichoke leaves, you have to use your front teeth to kind of scrape off the flesh, of the part that was attached to the heart. That is after you dipped it in the before mentioned glorious mixture.
When you get to sort of a hairy part of the artichoke, near the heart, you scrape these fibers off with a spoon until you meet the heart of this sucker. And then you eat it! And don’t try to eat the stem, it is bitter.
Please try to make artichokes, you won’t regret it!