Thursday, April 26, 2012

Artichokes



Artichokes are really intimidating. They're weird looking, are pretty tough and even have needles. Yeah, like poke-you-in-the-eye needles. What the heck are these things?

According to Larousse Gastronomique, an artichoke is a flower bud! Be sure to select those that haven't flowered, or opened, as they are too ripe and, unlike ripened fruits and vegetables, will be hard. Old ones will have black tips on each petal/leaf/scale.


The little barbs, or claws, or really sharp, pokey, needle-like things, are wicked. You might consider a nylon brush to scrub them if simply rinsing isn't your thing.


The stems can be eaten too, just give them a workover with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.


The recipe I bought these for give a brief description on what to do next. I opted to watch Jacques Pepin do his thing first. It's a little lengthy, 8.5 minutes, but the pertinent parts for my recipe are between minutes 1:40 and 2:40. As always, I highly recommend you watch the entire video. Jacque owns his artichokes.

So I went ahead and broke the leaves by bending and pulling down just as Jacque illustrated. It looks like I peeled off the majority of the leaves.


But looking at them from this angle says otherwise.
I should've keep breaking the leaves off until I reached the paler, almost yellow, leaves. The green ones turned out to be pretty tough after cooking and I wound up spitting them out like a real lady during dinner.

Here's a leaf I accidentally pulled from the entire bud. It has a score where I bent it, but that leaf didn't break like it was supposed to.


Per my recipe, the artichokes were halved to reveal the chokes (the hairy purple part) and each half cut into quarters.


With a spoon, I shoveled out the chokes, which was easier than I'd expected.


And then I realized I should cut the tips of the leaves off each piece to avoid eating needles during dinner. They were just lopped off with a chef's knife.

The trimmed chokeless artichoke pieces were placed in a bowl of lemon-water to prevent browning.


When finished, I was surprised by how much waste there is with an artichoke. Half or more of an artichoke is too tough to eat, so don't try to be too frugal. You might end up disappointed with your results.

Artichokes available from Grower's Direct for $1.49 each.


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