Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Artichokes in a pressure cooker (Instant-Pot)

Did you know you can make artichokes in a pressure cooker?

So I went and did it.  I went and bought myself an electric pressure cooker. An Instant Pot.  I had heard fanciful (and almost unbelievable) tales from my Sister-in-Law that you could cook chicken breasts from frozen to done in 15 minutes, hot wings in 9 minutes, spaghetti in 6 minutes, baked potatoes in 12 minutes, and I even saw on Pinterest you could make homemade yogurt in a pressure cooker!  

What is the magical pot that breaks all known cooking and food safety rules?!
Say what?? How on earth is that even humanly possible? How does this thing actually work (barring wizardry and unicorn wishes), and what about all those scary explosion stories from the days of yore back in Grandma's kitchen in 1964??

Well the beauty of modern technology, is that they have removed (for the most part) the more dangerous aspects out of using a pressure cooker.  I took mine out of the box (very gingerly, as if I was handling a nuclear bomb) and managed to brave the boiled water test recommended in the instructions. I will confess, I was standing literally 12 feet away and hiding behind an open pantry door, just to make sure my kitchen wouldn't implode. After we safely depressurized, I wanted to take this baby for a test spin on something a bit more tangible... and way more tasty.

I had heard that pressure cookers are fabulous for steaming things, and my thoughts turned to my favorite veggie, artichokes. Normally, it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to steam those big ol' globe artichokes. 

Before learning how to cook these on my own, we had to go to Black Angus to get a plate of artichokes

We've always done the regular stream in a pot method in the past around here (click here for steaming artichokes the regular way), and it has worked just fine, though sometimes it's a crap shoot to get them just right, as in, not too mushy and at the same time tender enough to pull the leaves off for dippin'. Well I've cooked artichokes twice now in my new Instant Pot, and I'm here to tell you that you can have three perfectly cooked globe artichokes in 20 minutes!  No joke!

The first part of prepping the artichokes is the same as if you were going to steam them in a big pot.  Scrub the outsides with some water and a vegetable scrubber to remove any dirt or debris, and trim the stem to one inch.

Next, flip them around and cut off about one inch off the front of the choke. 

Take kitchen scissors and blunt cut across all the tops of all the leaves, to remove the tiny thorn that will for surely impale you skin if you are not careful.

Rub down each artichoke with a half of lemon (and set the squished half of the lemon aside for later). Next, in the bottom of your pressure cooker put:

Two cups of water
The squished lemon halves (sliced up thin)
2 teaspoons of minced garlic (or more to taste)
2 bay leaves

It's not that pretty, but it will add flavor to the steam, and thus the artichokes
Place the metal steam rack on the bottom of the pot, over your water, lemons, garlic and bay leaves.

Hard to believe you can steam something with only an inch or so of water
Place your three globe artichokes stem side up (facing down) - or sideways if they all don't fit along the bottom.  

You can fit three globe artichokes in a 6 quart Instant Pot
Seal the lid of the pot (I love the happy little chimes letting you know you are locked in place).  Make sure the nozzle on the top is set to "Sealing" and not "Venting" and you are ready to go.

Set the Instant Pot to "manual" and select 20 minutes.
That's it.  Just set it and walk away.  I chose to take this time and make some melted garlic butter (our favorite artichoke dipping medium) buy slowly melting a stick of butter in a small pan on the stove top with a spoonful of minced garlic in it. 

It will take a few minutes for the pot to come up to pressure, then a timer will count down the 20 minutes until ready. Once the cooking process is finished, you can quick release the nozzle using an oven mitt (steam will come screaming out in a loud and slightly terrifying way), or you can let it sit in there and naturally de-pressurize on it's own for a few minutes.  After that, carefully open the lid and peek inside.  

Perfectly steamed artichokes in the pressure cooker
You'll have yourself a dandy little set of globe artichokes, ready for devouring. I always take a knife and stick it down the center stem to check for doneness.  If it glides in with little resistance, you are cooked all the way through.

All that is left to do now is to cut the artichokes in half, clean out the choke (purple thistle-y parts with a spoon) and bring on the warm garlic butter! 

While they are still warm bring them to a cutting board face down, and with tongs, cut down the middle of the stem, slicing them completely in half.

In the center you will find a purple section of leaves (what would have become the flower) that you will need to scoop out.  Because everything is so soft, it comes out pretty easily. Just take a big spoon and gently cut out the center part and remove so they look like the two on the left.
Picture from Cooking's Good blog - The one on the far right still needs the center purple and thistle part removed

Preparing them this way is genius I tell you, because now you have an edible bowl where you can pour in a slathering spoonful of garlic butter and as you pull the leaves off, each bite will have a bit of butter on it.  If you have never eaten an artichoke before, simply pull off the leaves and scrape the lower half of the leaf in your mouth, pulling off all the "meat". It is DIVINE!

Don't forget to add on a couple of turns of sea salt over the finished chokes

They are great as an appetizer, on their own as a meal, or a side to steak, chicken, etc.

Also after you have pulled off all the leaves you are left with the very best part, the heart of the artichoke.  Be sure to saver these. I tend to cut them up like a cherished steak and pour over the remaining garlic butter and quietly savor each bite. I could almost go vegetarian if I could have these every night.  They are so satisfying! These have GOT to be my all time favorite green vegetable.  So don't be afraid to try this alien-esque type orb, as it could easily turn out to be your go to veggie - and DON'T be afraid to try a pressure cooker, they can shave tons of time off your crazy busy schedule while giving you quicker, easier, meal options. Stay tune for more experiments with my new Instant Pot. Enjoy!


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