In a recent post on prepping artichokes, reader cmcinnyc wondered whether artichokes could be steamed in the slow cooker. We were totally intrigued by this idea, since we often don't think to make artichokes, but if we had the option to put them in the slow cooker in the morning maybe we would more often!
So we turned to our favorite slow cooker book Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, an excellent and fresh compendium of recipes for just about everything you could think to cook (and a lot you wouldn't, too) in your slow cooker.
Here's how you cook artichokes in your slow cooker.
1. Clean and prep the artichokes. Refer to this video for an absolutely fabulous quick tutorial and explanation of artichoke anatomy and prepping. I don't often take the time to watch videos online; I'd rather have a slideshow or just text. But this video is very worthwhile. Highly recommended! I especially liked how Michelle recommended saving all the cut leaves and scraps like my big pile above to make a broth or soup.
With these artichokes I was in a hurry, so I opted not to clean out the choke; I didn't even trim all the leaves. A lot of them weren't very spiny anyhow.
2. Put the artichokes in the slow cooker with liquid. I put the artichokes stem-side down in my big slow cooker and sprinkled them with a little salt, pepper, and fresh-squeezed lemon. Then I poured over about 2 cups of water (adjust to the size of your slow cooker; you may need a little less) and a drizzle of olive oil. Oh, and three smashed cloves of garlic went in too. You could add herbs; rosemary and thyme would be lovely.
3. Cook on low for 6 hours or until the leaves can be easily pulled away. The final cooking time will depend on the actual heat of your slow cooker and the size of the artichokes. The large ones took nearly 7 hours, which may have been because I didn't pull out the choke. But the small one I put in was actually done in about 4 hours.
When the artichokes are finished you can use the heart for all kinds of good things, or just eat it straight. Scrape the flesh off the leaves with your teeth, dipping each one into garlic butter sauce or something else yummy.
Overall, as other readers pointed out in that earlier post, it really doesn't take long to boil an artichoke. The real benefit to this method and making the artichokes in the slow cooker is the psychological pleasure of coming home after a long day to a fresh-steamed artichoke all ready to eat. Also, the cooking process makes the house smell wonderful! It's a fresh, spring-like way to put that slow cooker to use.
What's your favorite way to eat an artichoke?
Related: Recipe: Stuffed Artichokes
(Images: Faith Durand)