Friends, let me just start by saying that artichokes are weird. Spiky exterior, fuzzy interior, and a soft heart – God truly has a creative mind! 🙂 My only encounter with artichokes till now had been as part of a spinach-artichoke dip or some pieces added to a pasta dish ordered at a restaurant. Needless to say, I’d never used them myself. I had to do some research before cutting into this veggie because I had NO idea what to expect.
First you need to trim the stem and take off the lower leaves that are too tough to be edible. Then, you cut/trim the other leaves to remove the pointed edge. Once it’s been cooked, you spoon out the fuzzy “choke” and below is the hidden treasure, the heart! There are different ways you can cook an artichoke, but I wanted to stay basic so just steamed it in a pot on the stove. I also learned that you need to add some lemon or an other acid to prevent it from turning brown in the process. (mine still turned a little brown)
The artichoke turned really soft after cooking, and perhaps I cooked it a tad too long. It was kind of fascinating scooping out the fuzzy choke and then revealing the artichoke heart. What an interesting plant! We took the leaves and dipped them in a little melted butter, which was the advice I’d seen. Maybe because it was a small artichoke, but I didn’t get much ‘meat’ off of the leaves. But what I did get was rather tasty. Be careful not to use too much butter, because it’ll totally mask the artichoke flavor. The texture is very different too – when you slide the leaves between your teeth to get the meat, it’s soft and smooth and you wonder how the prickly plant became a delicacy! Overall, I liked it, but it takes a lot of work to get there. I probably won’t cook with whole artichokes much in the future, but am glad that I now know how! Here’s what my hubby, Jason, thought:
“I would have never tried an artichoke before this year. Not in a million billion years before this year (just ask my family members). But when I saw we were just eating the leaf part I thought, “okay, this won’t be bad, it’s just like a salad right?” Wrong! When my wife showed me how to eat the artichoke, I was rather intimidated by it. Sliding something on my teeth just gives me that shiver down my spine. Luckily, when I finally did it myself, it was smooth and easy. I kept asking Becky before I tried it what it tasted like. She couldn’t describe it. After I finally tried it, I can understand why. The best way I can describe the taste is like when you taste green beans; it’s not strong, but it’s not weak either. It has a taste all to its own, but nothing that even the pickiest eater could say they wouldn’t like. I actually stayed away from the butter after trying it plain. I also felt it was such a waste to get just the “meat” of the leaf and then chunk the rest away (we may just have to start a compost heap). Overall, I enjoyed it, especially while it was still warm, and would eat it again!”
Dash of salt
Trim the artichoke and place it top down (stem up) in a medium pot. Cut the lemon into quarters, squeeze in the juice, and add to the pot. Add a dash of salt and add about 1 1/2 inch of water to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and turn to medium heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes depending on the size, checking occasionally, until the stem is tender and leaves easily come off. When done, put artichoke in a strainer face down and let it sit for a minute. Then carefully separate the leaves to remove the choke. Serve while hot with some melted butter or however you desire. Enjoy!
Source: Learned the basic technique from Schnucks Cooks