Artichokes, big, delicious artichokes. Boy have they gotten expensive. Sometimes I feel like a nice artichoke, I go to the produce section of the grocery store and buy something else. After doing a 3 minute research; it seems they are slow growers, take up a lot of space for what you get, and must be picked when ready to eat, not before or after. So, okay, artichokes are expensive.
Luckily we have a local outlet that occasionally has some beautiful artichokes for around 2 bucks each (2018). Beautiful is subjective, to me a great artichoke is of good size, a softball will do as comparison. They are of good color with maybe some freeze burn. They are firm when squeezed, not soft with open leaves.
A soft artichoke is past it’s prime, either on the vine or on the shelf too long. They have started to dry out.
There are many ways to trim and cook an artichoke. Some trim right down to the choke, but for us, we enjoy the meat on the leaves. We will discard the first couple of layers, then start scraping the underside of the leaves with our teeth. It’s perfectly alright to use either your upper or lower front teeth.
Some prefer to eat their artichokes with a dip, generally melted butter or mayonnaise. I am a mayonnaise fan and Francene takes hers straight.
Preparing the artichokes couldn’t be simpler. Cut off the stems at the base and about 3/4 of an inch off the top to allow seasoning and moisture to get inside the leaves. Now if for a party and you want them to look pretty, clip off the tips of all the top layer leaves and remove and discard the bottom 1 or 2 rows. We like to pour a tablespoon or so of Italian dressing into/onto the top and give it a chance to soak in.
The stems we cut off can either be discarded or peeled with a potato peeler and cooked and eaten as well. If you use the stem, trim off the bottom dried end.
There are several ways to cook an artichoke and we prefer steaming them. This can be done with either a steamer or a pressure cooker. Allow 45 minutes with the steamer and our ‘big’ artichokes take 15 minutes in the pressure cooker, high pressure. I am sure there is a time that would work with the new Instapots available.
Eating artichokes is pretty straight forward; as I mentioned above scrape the meat from inside the leaves with your teeth until they get too small and become thistle. Remove the last of the leaves and use a spoon to scrape out the ‘choke’ bed of tiny thistles. The remaining cup, the heart, is the last and best of the meat, enjoy.
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