I love artichokes. I give full credit to my mom because she has been cooking and preparing them since I was a kid, so I grew up eating them. I’m always surprised when I meet adults who have never prepared their own artichoke. The horror! They are one my favorite foods! Real artichokes are infinitely more delicious than the canned/jarred artichoke hearts you buy in the grocery store. I can’t even begin to describe how much better they are. Just take my word for it. If your experience with artichokes extends only to the jarred variety, please stop what you are doing, read this post, then go to the grocery store and buy yourself an artichoke.
Now, there are lots of fancy ways of cooking an artichoke and I’m sure you can make all sorts of dips and add spices etc. I keep mine plain and simple and let the flavor of the artichoke do all the talking.
Rinse off your artichoke. try to pull back the leaves (just a bit!) to loosen any dirt that may have gotten down there. Be careful because the tips of the leaves have little pokey things (that is their official name BTW).
Cut the stem from the bottom of the artichoke to make it level. I usually have to cut it pretty close to the artichoke so I can fit it in my pot too.
Stem is cut
Fill a large pot of water with an inch or so of water.
Place the artichoke (or two) in the water (This is getting really difficult, I know). Cover the pot and bring the water to boil. Once boiling, lower to simmer/low boil. Keep covered.
Ready to boil
Let boil for about 45 minutes or so. To test doneness, pull a leave from the base (I usually don’t do the very lowest leaf, maybe the second one in). Eat the bottom of it. If its still tough, it needs another 5-10 minutes. The meat at the base of the leaf should be soft while still “meat-y”.
Once done, take the artichoke out of the pot with tongs (it will be HOT). Let cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, melt a little butter. I use dairy-free margarine. If you want to kick it up a notch, add a squirt of fresh lemon or some garlic salt (or be crazy and do both!). I usually stick to butter only.
Eat! I pull off the very lower base of the leaves and toss those. Then, I eat the meat at the bottom of each leaf (see picture above). For the lower leaves, I don’t eat the back, I just slide my teeth along the front, pulling off the meat. As you move up the layers to get closer into the middle of the artichoke, the leaves become much softer and you can just munch off the entire bottom of the leaf. Just go with common sense for what seems edible or not!
Once you’ve gotten to the middle, you will notice the leaves are just itty bitty and curled in and usually purple, you can’t really eat those.
You need to pull off the leaves to get to the “choke”. The choke (where the name artichoke comes from) consists of a whole bunch of little hairs that you can’t eat. I don’t think their poisonous, but don’t try them to find out. They aren’t edible.
So pull off as many leaves as you can, I never worry about getting them all. You’ll find the center is really hot still, so you may want to let it cool down a bit. I never have the patience, but I’m sure some people out there are more sensible than me.
Once you get closer to the middle, you will see the little hairs. The heart (the good stuff we are trying to get to) is below them and is a slight bowl shape, it concaves down. The easiest way to remove the choke is to grab a spoon, and just slide it under the hairs completely and use the spoon to cut them away from the heart. Like below.
It should look like this when done. I sometimes even rinse with water to get off any possible leftover hair.
Once you have removed all the hairs, trim up the outside of the artichoke to take away the rough parts. Just take a little paring knife and lightly trim the outside edges and bottom. You will notice where it is rough and where it is smooth.
Rough outer edges need to GO!
Cut the remaining heart into bite size pieces. I usually slices into wedges like a pizza. Dip them in your remaining butter. Enjoy the amazing goodness of the best.food.EVAR.
Wedges of awesome