Recipe Day – Artichokes

in foodphotography •  last year 

Artichoke2 crop April 2018.jpg
Twice the size of my fist

Our local market had a huge shipment of these beautiful artichokes. They were selling them for $2 each!

I had my first artichoke in 1974 in Tacoma, WA. When I met my husband, he’d never eaten one. So of course, I had to make them for him. He prefers the leaves dipped in melted butter; I prefer Hellman’s Mayo.

Cooking artichokes is very easy, but it does take a long time. These monsters steamed for 1½ hours and were perfectly cooked.

To buy artichokes:

Artichoke1 crop April 2018.jpg

If you are looking at buying artichokes, you want the leaves tight in the bud. If the leaves have come away, it is getting old and they will be tough, at least the bottom leaves.

To cook artichokes:

Artichokes - bad leaves crop April 2018.jpg

A few of the bottom leaves will be gone by: split, discolored, damaged. Removed these, just pull them off.

Artichokes - leaves off crop April 2018.jpg

Then, holding the choke under running water, gently pull the leaves back to let the water rinse inside, if you can. These chokes were so tight, we couldn’t really do it!

Artichokes - washing crop April 2018.jpg

Hold them upside down to drain out water. In a large stock pot with a steamer in the bottom (make sure you put water in up to the bottom of the steamer) add 2 -3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Artichokes - lemon juice crop1 April 2018.jpg

Set the chokes in on their sides.

Artichokes - in pot crop April 2018.jpg

Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down until the steam continues steadily. Depending on the size of your chokes, it can take between 45 mins and 90 mins as ours did. The leaves will pull away easily, and the underside should be tender.

Artichokes - cooked crop April 2018.jpg

To eat artichokes:

Prepare bowls of melted butter or mayonnaise. Have a large bowl for the discarded leaves.

Artickoke - leaf underside2 crop April 2018.jpg

Pull the leaf off, dip it in your condiment of choice, and drag the underside of the leaf over your lower teeth, scraping off the tender flesh. You don’t want to bite through the leaf, as it is full of strings.

Artickoke - leaf underside scraped crop April 2018.jpg

Keep pulling and dipping until you reach the transparent inner leaves that are usually tinged deep red. These tend to be a bit bitter.

Artichoke - heart1 crop April 2018.jpg

Using a small spoon, pull these off like a cap off a head. Underneath are the under developed prickles. Using the spoon gently scrape them off the soft heart underneath. This soft heart is the prize you’ve been working for! So don’t dig into it or discard any.

Artichoke - heart2 crop April 2018.jpg

Once the prickles are removed, dip or coat the heart with your condiment. You can eat the entire thing, down to the stem. If the stem is large enough, there’s even a good center.

We adore artichokes and I’ve grown them here for over 20 years. Some years we get some, some years we don’t. But this is not their climate of choice, so they don’t get very big.

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I just love artichokes too! Ever since I was a little kid, it was so exciting, and a huge treat, when my mom would serve artichokes.
I'm going to try adding lemon juice to the water...I usually put a splash of vinegar, but the smell can be a bit much during cooking.
ALso, I always cut the stem off so that the artichokes can sit upright in the pot, but I like the was the stem is used as a handle while cutting out the choke above the 'heart'. Oooooh boy, the heart of the chokes is just the best!!

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Those are HUGE! I've never actually prepared them like that. I've used them in recipes but never just ate the artichoke. How cool!!

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These were the very best artichokes we've ever seen! And they were really delicious, right from the first outer leaves.

Thank you for this. I haven't ever prepared them before. The Hubs and I both like them but I have only used pickled hearts in recipes. I wouldn't have know about scraping the leaves but that makes sense... don't want to waste the good. I agree, those were Super Nice!

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Neither my husband nor I like the pickled type. This is a world of difference from those!