Kitchen Kung-Fu: Prepping Artichokes
If they weren’t so darn tasty, artichokes almost wouldn’t be worth the trouble. Prepping, cooking, then the actual eating part—which requires working past spiny leaves and fuzzy inedible bits to get to the prized heart—demands dedication and perseverance.
How you prepare your artichokes depends on how you intend to eat them; do you like to pull the leaves off, dunk them in a savory sauce, and use your teeth to scrape off the fleshy bits? If so, the process is simple: Wash the artichokes, trim the stem (leaving a half-inch or so behind), pull off any small or discolored leaves near the stem, and steam for 30–45 minutes, depending on the size. Tip: to test for done-ness, tug on a leaf mid-way between the outer leaves and the core. If it gives way easily, it’s ready to eat.
If you plan to serve your artichokes to company and want a more polished presentation, slice the off the top third of each artichoke to expose the leaves and heart, and use a pair of scissors to snip the spiny ends of the remaining leaves before steaming. (Trimming the spiky leaves is also a good idea if you have children with sensitive little fingers.)
If it’s the heart of the artichoke you’re after, the preparation process requires an extra couple of steps. After trimming the stem, remove all of the leaves by pulling them backward and snapping them off (this works best on really fresh, firm artichokes), or use a sharp paring knife to slice them off. Next, slice each artichoke in half and scrape out the fuzzy choke. Your artichokes are now ready to be grilled, fried, braised, or steamed.
Hint: Artichokes discolor as soon as they’re cut, but rubbing the exposed bits with the juicy part of a sliced lemon half prevents them from turning an unappealing shade of brown. You can also prepare a lemon-and-water bath and toss each artichoke in as you prepare it for cooking.
Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in re-creating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.