Good things to eat

The fuss about artichokes

After our recent visit to Earthbound Farms and seeing all the beautiful artichokes they had growing there, I thought that THIS might be the year I actually try and cook or “deal” with one.

As beautiful as they looked still on the plant, which is actually the flower of a thistle and as wonderful and appetizing as they look piled fresh at a market stand, I’ve just never been able to bring myself to buy one because I simply had no idea what to do with it!   They seem very intimidating!

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california 2013 part i051

But they are finally in season around these parts and I saw a cute little four pack at the market and thought why not!

They sat in the fridge for almost a week, every day I would look at them and decide that I would tackle them tomorrow.

But finally, enough was enough, I didn’t want them to end up like a lot of fruit and strange produce that make it into our fridge and then end up in the compost.

I watched a whole BUNCH of people on youtube painstakingly showing me their techniques on how to prepare them.  One more complicated than the next.  Some steamed, some baked, some stuffed.some steamed then stuffed then baked……but what finally got me was the video of a five year old boy teaching us how to eat one.    ( click here to check it out )

He seemed to really enjoy it so how hard can it be??

I opted for the plain and simple, steam and eat with melted butter method.

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Here is what you will need for your little project, according to most of the “Steam” version videos.

  • artichokes
  • large non reactive ( no cast iron or aluminum) pot with a steam rack in the bottom ( I didn’t have one)
  • sharp knife – must be stainless steel
  • kitchen scissors
  • a lemon cut in half

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Start by giving the artichokes a nice wash and pulling off any obvious bad bits or the big gnarly leaves that may be on the bottom.

Then, in what ever order you choose, but work quickly because like avocado, artichoke starts to oxidize and turn grey once it has been cut….

  • So you will need to trim off the end of the stem
  • cut off 1/2 to 1 inch of the top depending on size, with knife
  • with scissors, cut off the pointy bit on each individual leaf

All the while, rubbing the thing down with your bits of cut lemon to avoid them getting discoloured.

Then place them in a bowl of cold lemon water while you finish the rest of them, or into a pot for cooking, depending on how many and how fast you are.

Articoke005

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Then boil the water and steam them.   Please check some of the other web sites and videos to get your own sense for how long.   I steamed mine for 35 minutes and to me they seemed over steamed, while some sites said at least 45 minutes.  So I guess use your cooking sense and poke them often to see if they are done.   Being the first time I’d done it, I wasn’t all together sure what I was looking for.

Articoke009

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Once steamed, take them out of the pot and let them cool long enough that they are comfortable to touch.

Then when that happens, take each one and pry open the leaves  ( although in my case they were over cooked so that was very easy) and then get a spoon into the centre and scrap out the “choke”.  You will recognize it easily because it is this hairy looking bottom of a flower type thing and would SURELY choke you if you ate it!

Articoke011

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Then you are ready to go.

Serve with a little bowl of melted butter.

Articoke012

I guess start from the outside, although I was pretty random with it, and pull off each leaf one by one, dip it in the melted butter and then draw the end of the leaf through your teeth, scraping it along your teeth ( top or bottom) while sucking the pulp off the leaf.

Articoke013

That’s it.  The whole deal.

Watch the kid in the video if you don’t understand what I’m getting at!

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So this goes on till you have sucked on every last leaf and you are left with a heaping pile of “used” leaves.

Articoke015

That’s when you get down to the artichoke “heart”.  This is the good part that we usually buy pickled in cans or jars and put in our artichoke dips and other dishes.

Apparently at this point, you cut it up and just eat that with butter too.  But to be honest, by then I was over it.

It also looked a bit gray to me, which the Chef tells me is because I didn’t put enough lemon in my cooking water……….

But you can chop it up and eat it, or put it in a salad or dip.

Articoke017

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I know that thousands of people can’t be wrong when they say that this is a delicacy.  But I will be honest with you when I say that I simply don’t “get it”.

WAY too labour intensive for so little yield of something that was………interesting……maybe even good………but certainly NOT over the moon, OMG, must have THAT all the time…..kind of thing.

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Maybe next time………I try the stuffed with gorgonzola and breadcrumbs version?

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Comments on: "The fuss about artichokes" (2)

  1. I always saw artichoke leaves as simply a vehicle to get butter to your mouth. Certainly not worth all the fuss and bother. The recipe I followed years ago had you tying lemon slices on to the stem ends with string when cooking them. I mean, come on – really??

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