Since I was a toddler, artichokes have been my very favorite food. My smart mama figured out that once I knew how to eat one, it occupied at least 90 minutes of my toddler time and resulted in utter (and blissful) silence for her. My delight in eating artichokes has only grown with me, and when I posted a story about these on Instagram, I got so many questions that I realized I needed to write this post! After all, joy—like a perfect artichoke—is meant to be shared! Here’s a step-by-step plan for a perfect artichoke experience!
STEP ONE: HOW TO PREPARE AN ARTICHOKE
- Start by cutting a lemon in half and keeping it close. Then, trim the stems so that only about an inch of stem remains, rubbing the cut surfaces with the lemon.
- With a very sharp knife, cut the top inch off the artichoke, holding it very firmly with the other hand, so you can see the soft purple center of the choke once the top is gone.
- Then, place it stem-up on the cutting board, and carefully cut it in half and then quarters, starting at the stem and holding it steady and firm with your non-cutting hand. (They’re really tough, so use your best blade and be careful!)
- Once you have four quarters, use a smaller blade and/or a spoon to cut out the fuzzy/hairy part (often called the “choke”), and rub all cut surfaces with lemon. Be sure not to cut out the center itself. That's the heart, and it’s the most delicious part!
- Repeat for all artichokes
STEP TWO: HOW TO COOK AN ARTICHOKE
- Set up a double boiler and place the quartered artichokes in stem-up, arranging them so they are standing on their heads. You can make multiple layers if needed, and I usually throw in the leftover lemon.
- Steam them for about 15-20 minutes until the heart can be pierced with a fork but still retains some firmness.
- While they steam, make this simple dressing and preheat the oven to 375.
- Transfer the steamed artichoke quarters to a baking tray, and brush them all over with the dressing.
- Place the tray on the top shelf of the oven, and bake for another 10-20 minutes, until they are slightly crispy and browned on the edges and inner leaves, but not burnt!
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly or even to room temperature.
STEP THREE: HOW TO EAT AN ARTICHOKE
Arrange the cooked artichokes on a pretty platter, and select a large bowl for all the discarded leaves you’re about to have! Starting at the part closest to the stem on the outside, pull off a leave and scrape the leaf with your front teeth. The soft part that comes off as you scrape is the edible part of the leaf. Well, the other part of the leaf is edible, but it’s so fibrous that you’ll still be chewing when everyone else is having dessert. Repeat until all the leaves are gone and you have only the heart and stem remaining, at which point you need only close your eyes and enjoy every last sumptuous bite.
Of course, you can make an artichoke almost as many ways as Bubba could make shrimp! You can steam them whole and pluck the petals from the outside in, dipping them in melted butter with lemon. You can grill them or boil them and dip them in your favorite salad dressing. You can slice the hearts raw and put them in a salad—they’re actually edible flowers. However you cook your artichoke, make sure to enjoy them every bit as much as my mom enjoyed the silence while I ate mine.
With love and plenty of dipping sauce,