Tackling an Artichoke
I adore artichokes-- you know, the kind that come in little glass jars and cost like $3.00 or more a piece? Well after my experience cooking a fresh artichoke I now understand why they are so pricey. Fresh artichokes are incredibly delectable and the best part is the artichoke heart-- you go through so much effort to get only a few bites of the best part. Here I will do my best to show my experience of cooking an artichoke and what worked best for me.
Okay, the first step is simple. Cut off the bottom so that the artichoke can sit flat. Now I did not cook the stem; however, they are edible! The best way to cook the stem is to cut around the inner white part to ensure there is no fibrous outer edge left on it. The inner part is the part you eat-- simply add it to the pot when there is 15 minutes left.
Remove Tips & Top
Artichokes tend to be very spiky-- they are the flowers of a cactus, after all. It is not necessary to cut off the spiky petals; however, I think it is more pleasing to the eye and eliminates part of the fear of eating an artichoke. The best way to do this is by using kitchen scissors. Once you do this, use a sharp knife to cut off the top part of the artichoke. This can be difficult so make sure that the knife you use is sharp, otherwise you may risk cutting yourself. I would also recommend removing some of the outer petals as they can be tough and fibrous. Like avocados, artichokes tend to turn brown when exposed to air so soak the artichoke in a lemon water solution.
This is immediately after cooking-- you can tell by the color change and how the leaves have opened up slightly. Now, if I were to do it over again and had the proper equipment I would steam my artichoke. I have heard that by doing this you prevent the artichoke from soaking in too much water. Regardless, I boiled my artichoke. I simply placed the prepared artichoke in boiling water, covered the pot, and let sit for about 45 minutes until the leaves could be removed without much force. Once again, had I done it all over again I would add lemon, bay leaves, and other flavorful spices to the bowling water, but I guess there's always next time!
Dip & Enjoy!
Delicious! Be forewarned though, if for any reason you are not entirely impressed with the first few leaves, keep going! They get better, more flavorful, and unbelievably tender the further towards the center you get. People often dip artichoke leaves in mayonnaise or butter, but I truly enjoyed it with a hollandaise sauce that is essentially a more flavorful melted butter. I used one of Martha Stewart's recipes. If you are unaware of how to eat these delectable treats, you simply drag the bottom white part through your teeth leaving the leave behind.
What is your favorite dip?
Remove the Choke
Ahhh, the choke! This hairy part of the artichoke freaked me out and is the main reason I have never cooked one before, but have no fear my friends! Once you get to the tender purple leaves you see laying in the background of the this picture you will know that you are nearing the choke. You do not want to eat this hair! I simply used a spoon and scraped it away, it came right off. Then I turned it around and cut off any of the stem that was leftover. Now you are left with the best, miniscule part! Whatever you do, do NOT let this go to waste. Dip it in the sauce you made or eat it by itself, either way it is incredible. I hope you enjoy and no longer fear the amazing artichoke!